Talks and lectures

Back to the Future?: China’s Rise, Sovereignty, and International Law

Tuesday, 29 May, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

Inaugural Chinese Law Lecture and launch of the Oxford Chinese Law Discussion Group. We are pleased to announce the launch of the Oxford Chinese Law Discussion Group and the inaugural lecture and meeting of the Discussion Group featuring Professor Jacques deLisle. The Discussion Group provides a regular forum for scholarly debate on topical issues at the intersection of Chinese law and other disciplines, as well as the intersection between Chinese, common, and civil laws and legal traditions and international law. For more information about the Discussion Group, please contact Dr Mimi Zou: Please join us for a drinks reception after the lecture. Abstract: China has risen rapidly as a global power and has stated, with increasing clarity, a goal of influencing the international order.  International law is both a significant focus of China’s efforts and a window into China’s broader agenda.  Although China presents itself as a supporter of international cooperation and integration, a principal feature of China’s approach to international law remains a strikingly strong conception of state sovereignty.  China’s approach to Taiwan issues, and the South China Sea disputes are major examples (and the focus of this lecture) that illustrate the challenges that China’s strong-sovereignty perspective poses, as well as the ways that international law can help — and hinder — the management of fraught issues in international affairs.  China’s emphasis on sovereignty extends to other dimensions of international law and politics, but, in other significant domains, there are indications of a generally salutary departure from China’s problematic 'sovereigntism'. This lecture explores these continuities and departures and assesses the implications for the international legal order. Jacques deLisle is the Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law, professor of political science, director of the Center for East Asian Studies, deputy director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and co-director of the Center for Asian Law at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.  His writing, which has appeared in Journal of Contemporary ChinaOrbis, Asia Policy, and other foreign affairs and areas studies journals, law reviews, edited volumes of interdisciplinary scholarship, and other media, focuses on China’s engagement with the international legal and political orders, domestic legal reform and rule-of-law issues in China, Taiwan’s status and external relations, and U.S.-China relations. He is co-editor of China’s Global Engagement (with Avery Goldstein, 2017), New Media, the Internet and a Changing China (with Avery Goldstein and Guobin Yang, 2016), Political Changes in Taiwan under Ma Ying-jeou (with Jean-Pierre Cabestan, 2014), China’s Challenges (with Avery Goldstein, 2014), among others. He frequently serves as an expert witness on Chinese law, and has been a consultant to several projects on law and legal reform in China, supported by U.S. and Chinese government entities and NGOs.  He was an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice and a law clerk to then-Judge Stephen Breyer.    

Independent Press in the Age of World Literature

Wednesday, 30 May, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

Oxford Chinese Studies Society. Independent Press in the Age of World Literature. Conversation and book-signing with Dr Roh-suan Tung (Managing Director of Balestier Press) and Taiwanese writer Chiung-yu Shih.

Party, Nation-State, Empire: Re-thinking the Grammar of Chinese Governance

Thursday, 31 May, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

Western political scientists, regarding China as a nation-state like any other, commonly classify it as a 'party-state' and as 'authoritarian'.  Yet China’s transition to modern statehood differed from that of almost every other post-imperial or ‘new’ nation on the planet.  Drawing on new scholarship in the history of empire and of modern China, this talk reflects on certain repercussions of the Sinic world’s singular experience of empire, imperial breakdown and passage to political modernity.  What light, we ask, can re-examining China’s oddly intact transfiguration - from dynastic empire to people’s republic - shed on how the Party has governed since 1949?  With a view to tailoring an altered research agenda for political scientists today – one better fitted to grasping what Chinese authorities may mean when they refer to building 'socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era' - we consider, in particular, various techniques of governance associated with empire relating to scale and strategy, to hierarchy and differentiation. Vivienne Shue, from 2002 to 2012 the Director of Oxford’s Contemporary China Studies Programme, is now an Emeritus Professor and a Fellow of the British Academy.  Best known for one of her early books on government and politics in the Mao period, The Reach of the State (1988), her (obviously incorrigible) preoccupation with state institutions and practices, and with state-society relations in China continues to generate scribbles on more contemporary affairs: 'Legitimacy Crisis in China?', in Gries and Rosen, Chinese Politics (2010); 'Modern/Rural China: State Institutions and Village Values', in Bislev and Thǿgersen , Organizing Rural China (2012); and a book, just out from Cambridge, To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power (co-edited with Patricia Thornton; 2017).

China’s Integration Strategies with Fulcrum Countries along the Belt and Road

Friday, 1 June, 13:00 - 14:00 at Seminar Room 1

China is pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative and seeking in-depth collaboration with the fulcrum countries along the B&R.  This lecture focuses on six fulcrum countries and four potential fulcrum countries along the B&R, analysing China’s development strategies integration with each of these countries and the challenges and policy implications.  This lecture is based on a research project sponsored by the National Social Science Fund of China (Project No. 15BGJ012).   Huaigao Qi is Vice Dean and Associate Professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University. He is currently a Swire Scholarship Academic Visitor at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford (until September 2018).     Mandarin Presentation;  English PPT;  Bilingual Q&A;  Sandwich Lunch Provided Convenor: Dr Annie Hongping Nie Open to all.  For catering purposes please sign up using the link below.

The Development of Transnational Thought in East and Southeast Asia

Monday, 4 June, 15:30 - 17:00 at Seminar Room 1

International History of East Asia seminar.   Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz, Harvard University and University of Cambridge: 'The Idea of "Asia" in Turn-of-the Twentieth-century Philippine Thought and Asianist Action'. Jack Neubauer, Columbia University: 'The Humanitarian Cloak: The Chinese Communist Revolution and the Birth of Cold War Humanitarianism'.

Did World War II in China matter?

Monday, 4 June, 17:30 - 19:00 at Lecture Theatre 1

China Centre Conversation with Hans van de Ven (University of Cambridge), China at War (2017) and Eugenie Buchan (Independent Scholar), A Few Planes for China (2017)  

Probing Authoritarian Resilience and Fragility in China

Tuesday, 5 June, 17:00 - 18:00 at Lecture Theatre 1

Featuring Professor Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna ‘Probing Authoritarian Resilience and Fragility in China: Insights from History and Social Science’   Time to be confirmed

40th Anniversary of Reform: Who is Missing From the Dinner Party?

Wednesday, 6 June, 12:00 - 13:00 at Lecture Theatre 1

40th Anniversary of Reform: Who is Missing From the Dinner Party?   A Conversation with Professor Yuezhi Zhao about the Communication Politics on Rural China Lecture followed by a free lunch reception (Sign-up required) Supported by: the Oxford Chinese Studies Society In 1978, the actions of 18 Chinese villagers were given an oversized role and subject positionality in the official media narrative about the beginning of China’s post-Mao reform. In 2018, as China commemorates 40 years of post Mao reform, what will be the role of China’s 600 million rural residents in the country’s newly launched Rural Revitalization process? Professor Zhao shares her insights by reflecting upon her personal experience as a West-based scholar from rural China, and her scholarly trajectory leading to the incorporation of Chinese rurality into the analysis of political economy of global communication. For our final event of the term, OCSS is pleased to invite media scholar, Professor Yuezhi Zhao (赵月枝) to give a talk on communication politics, rurality in China, as well as her experiences as an overseas scholar from rural China. Professor Zhao’s talk will be 1 hour in length in the lecture theatre, and although not a dinner party, we invite guests to join us and Prof. Zhao for an informal Q+A and discussion session over a free lunch (party) in the Mok common room from 1-1:30pm. Please sign up here no later than June 1 if you wish to join the lunch, and kindly indicate any dietary restrictions: Yuezhi Zhao is Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Communication at the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Canada. She is also a Specially Appointed Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, a Co-Director of the Simon Fraser University-Communication University of China Global Communication MA Double Degree Program, and the Executive Director of Heyang Institute for Rural Studies in Jinyun County, Zhejiang Province, China. Professor Zhao’s research centres on the political economy and cultural politics of China’s communication system and its global integration. A recipient of both the Dallas Smythe Award and the Edwin C. Baker Award for her scholarly achievements, Dr. Zhao’s publications include Communication in China: Political Economy, Power and Conflict (2008), Communication and Society: Political Economy and Cultural Analysis (2011, in Chinese). Read more about Professor Zhao’s work here: And here: (in Chinese) For any questions or comments, please contact:  

Image and Object: East

Wednesday, 6 June, 14:30 - 18:00 at Lecture Theatre 1

Symposium for Professor Craig Clunas, University of Oxford. University of Oxford, History of Art Department. Centre for Visual Studies - Annual Workshop. Researchers from a range of disciplines give 10-minute presentations focused on one image or object, and demonstrate some of the range of current work in visual studies at Oxford. All are welcome, but please contact to reserve a place. Programme: 14.40 Welcome: Craig Clunas. Session 1 14.45 Peter Stewart (Classics): Yingpan Man’s ‘Roman’ Tunic, 14.55 Julia Smith (History): From East to Everywhere: Jerusalem in the Early Medieval West, 15.05 Rana Mitter (History/China Centre): Victory in China: A Memorial and its Meaning, Discussant: Gervase Rosser (History of Art). Session 2 15.30 Miguel de Baca (History of Art): Discontinued China, 15.40 Katherine Ibbett (French): The French in American Waters, Discussant: Hanneke Grootenboer (History of Art). 16.05 Tea. Session 3 16.35 Lena Fritsch (Ashmolean): Tokyo: The 'Capital of the East' in Daido Moriyama's Photography, 16.45 Anthony Gardner (Ruskin School of Art): A Chinese Education, 16.55 Margaret Hillenbrand (Chinese Studies): Negative Exposures, Discussant: Alastair Wright (History of Art). Session 4 17.20 Xa Sturgis (Ashmolean): Chinese Painting and an Audience, 17.30 Ros Holmes (Christ Church): East of What? Devious Directions in Contemporary Art, Discussant: Geraldine Johnson (History of Art). 17.55 Closing remarks: Craig Clunas. Followed by a drinks reception to mark Craig’s retirement from the Chair of Art History.  

A Different Story of a Chinese Warlord

Thursday, 7 June, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

‘A Different Story of a Chinese Warlord: Idea Exchange and Political Collaboration between Chen Jiongming and the May Fourth Intellectuals, 1919-1922’   Instead of assuming ‘warlords’ as a homogeneous counterforce to the May Fourth enlightenment while imagining Chinese intellectuals as a natural alliance for the ‘anti-warlordism’ revolution, this talk examines the prevailing idea exchange and political collaboration between Chen Jiongming (1878-1933), the Cantonese military strongman, and the May Fourth intellectuals in Canton. Between 1919 and 1922, Chen Jiongming not only ameliorated his anarchist-federalist ideas, but also garnered support from thinkers of different ideological camps such as Liang Bingxian, Chen Duxiu, Hu Shi and Hu Shi’s mentor John Dewey. Focusing on the ideological aspects of warlord rule, this talk attempts to situate the study of warlordism against the backdrop of the Chinese enlightenment, and to reappraise the warlord period as an integral part of the internationalisation process of China’s state-building.   Dr Vivienne Xiangwei Guo is Lecturer in Modern Chinese History at the University of Exeter. She studied international politics at Peking University, Waseda University, and the London School of Economics and Political Science for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2015, she obtained her doctoral degree in history from King’s College London. Between 2014 and 2016, she worked as a research associate and taught modern Chinese history at the University of Cologne in Germany before joining the University of Exeter in September 2016. Dr Guo is currently completing a monograph entitled Women and Politics in Wartime China, to be submitted for publication later this year. In the meantime, she is working on another book project, which re-examines Chinese warlordism within the context of the May Fourth enlightenment and reappraises the so-called warlord period (1916-1928) as an integral part of the internationalisation process of China’s state-building.  

Journalism in Hong Kong: Present and Future

Monday, 11 June, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

Gary Liu is CEO of the South China Morning Post, a leading news media company that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century with global impact. Founded in 1903, SCMP is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it is city’s newspaper of record. Prior to joining SCMP in January 2017, Gary was CEO of Digg, spearheading the New York startup’s transformation from aggregator to a data-driven news platform. Previously, Gary was Head of Spotify Labs, where he led emerging technologies and business strategies for Spotify’s global markets, after joining as Global Director of Ad Product Strategy. Gary has also worked at AOL and Google. Born in the United States, Gary grew up in Taiwan and New Zealand, before returning to the American Northeast where he lived and worked for 20 years. He currently lives in Hong Kong with his wife Katrina, a pediatric dentist. Gary is an Economics graduate from Harvard University.  

The Chinese Party-State’s Use of Model Worker Narratives to Legitimise Reform and Maintain Order, 1977-1992

Thursday, 14 June, 17:00 - 18:30 at Lecture Theatre 1

This talk investigates how and why the Chinese party-state used the figure of the model worker as a means of explaining its reform policies in the period 1977-1992. Through digitally-aided analysis, primarily of newspaper articles from the People’s Daily, it is shown that the party-state did not, as has often been claimed, primarily present economic growth as legitimation for the economic reforms. Instead, the party-state sought to alter public values, norms, and expectations—particularly those of Chinese workers—so as to bring these in line with economic reform. With inspiration from anthropology, religious studies, architecture, and literature it is argued that the notion of 'porous personhood' is a fruitful way of understanding how interpersonal influence is thought to occur according to the Chinese social imaginary. This understanding, in turn, presents us with a better appreciation of why the Chinese tradition of selecting model workers, along with other types of models, has remained a preoccupation of the Chinese party-state up until the present day. Bo Ærenlund Sørensen has a BA in Comparative Literature and an MA in History with a minor in Chinese Studies. Bo is in the last year of a DPhil in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. Currently living in Copenhagen, Bo teaches literature at the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Bo has previously worked for a number of years, first as a computer programmer and later as a journalist and translator. Bo has co-edited two literary journals and has published about a dozen short stories and poems. Most recently Bo has co-edited and translated most of the volume Revisiting Gender Inequality: Perspectives from the People’s Republic of China (Palgrave, 2016).

Mandarin Forum

Friday, 15 June, 13:00 - 14:00 at Seminar Room 1