North Korean Human Rights: Rex Tillerson as Blank Slate

Will the Trump administration maintain and extend US pressure on North Korea on the human rights front? Will the Executive Branch aim to extend and intensify US criticism of and dialogue with Chinese counterparts on topics regarding the PRC’s mistreatment, hukou discrimination, imprisonment, and/or refoulement of North Korean refugees? At a 29 November 2016 event at the Bush Library, Senator Lieberman said keeping up the human … Continue reading North Korean Human Rights: Rex Tillerson as Blank Slate

Britain’s Global Cold War: Publications by Alexander Nicholas Shaw

One of the nice things about my job is that I get to work with some the most talented young historians in the field today. Alexander Shaw is one of those  working and publishing in international history. He is active in archives including the UK ‘Migrated Archives’ and addresses many questions pertinent to readers of this website. His work on British policy towards East & Southeast … Continue reading Britain’s Global Cold War: Publications by Alexander Nicholas Shaw

Chinese Patterns of Response to North Korean Disasters and Collapse

On 29 September, I presented a paper at the Korean National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. In addition to conversations with members of the ROK Foreign Ministry (my hosts), I also had a chance to meet, debate, and learn from Chinese scholars like Jia Qingguo, Jin Jingyi and Cheng Xiaohe as well as the one and only Bruce Klingner. The full text of my paper is available … Continue reading Chinese Patterns of Response to North Korean Disasters and Collapse

Revisiting Mao’s Role in the ‘Three-Anti’ Campaign

If there is one thing that appears certain about contemporary China and Chinese historical studies, it is that Mao’s role in sparking and sustaining violence during the period of his rule (1949-1976) will invariably provoke controversy and contention. On this blog, we have  previously delved into Mao’s interactions with the ultra-hardline Tao Zhu in Guangxi in the early 1950s, and made reference to Frank Dikotter’s … Continue reading Revisiting Mao’s Role in the ‘Three-Anti’ Campaign

Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

In the wake of the Upper House elections in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed a reshuffling of his cabinet. As described by Japan hand Michael Cucek, it was not a particularly inspiring set of choices made by the newly-consolidated Prime Minister: Taro Aso (the right-wing former PM perhaps best recalled for his off-the-cuff endorsement of Hitler’s constitutional revision style) remains at the helm … Continue reading Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

Grain Politics and Sichuan in the 1950s

There are few lines of historical investigation more fraught in China than those concerned with food, security, and famine in Sichuan province in the 1950s. But where to start the investigation? Which reference points obtain? For Frank Dikotter, the reference point is Mao, and the beginning point seems to be 1953. In his book Mao’s Great Famine, the historian locates the origins of the famine … Continue reading Grain Politics and Sichuan in the 1950s

Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

Foreign correspondents are crucial conduits for insights into contemporary East Asia. As I’ve learned from my conversations with various bureau chiefs, stringers, and greybeards in the region, there are few people willing to share insights as journalists, as it is their job to be, and to stay, plugged in. For the contemporary historian, reading the accounts of journalists in the region in the 1940s an … Continue reading Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_