Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

In January/February 2015, the Huanqiu Shibao (the foreign affairs tabloid under Beijing People’s Daily, massive readership etc.) used one of Joshua Stanton’s maps to indicate the locations of North Korea’s largest gulags. Given the combination of Stanton’s personal hostility toward the Chinese Communist Party and Beijing’s own reluctance to throw North Korean human rights up to public introspection, I found this method rather surprising. Yet more … Continue reading Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Why should we care about scholars in China, or the complaints they have toward North Korea? Usually, readers take interest in Chinese scholarly debates because something specific and enticing has been translated into English implying that a Beijing policy shift toward North Korea may be in the offing.    Shen Zhihua’s March 2017 speech in Dalian became the latest in this periodic series of subterranean … Continue reading Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Wise Words and Wishful Thinking on China’s Relationship with North Korea

The most recent wave of analysis emerging out of North Korea’s test of an apparent Intercontinental Ballistic Missile has once again brought minds back to focusing on China’s ability to pressure North Korea. From the US President to the Washington Post, opinion makers and analysts are keen to see China take the key role in getting North Korea to stop flouting UN Security Council resolutions. … Continue reading Wise Words and Wishful Thinking on China’s Relationship with North Korea

Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Sometimes we need to modify the questions we ask. The question “Is the Chinese Communist Party going to cut off North Korea?” results in a fairly predictable string of analyses — usually adding up to an answer of “no.” Perhaps we might be better off by shifting perspectives, asking “To what extent does the regime in Pyongyang trust its counterpart in Beijing?” Such a question … Continue reading Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

For presentation at Leiden University lecture series “Borders: Life on the Edge of Area Studies“, 28 February 2017: For the Chinese Communist Party, the northeastern province of Liaoning today inhabits an odd position on the “One Belt, One Road” strategic line. Stuck with a recalcitrant North Korean neighbour, the CCP is endeavouring to revive the regional economy by reaching beyond various fundamental North Korean blockages … Continue reading Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

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

Corruption, Sanctions, Dandong

In two essays which I anticipate publishing this week (in NK News and CPI Analysis, respectively), I question the connection between Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption activity and the implementation of sanctions on North Korea. Here are some of the data points I’m dealing with, in no particular order. Sadly, in pulling my research materials together, I found that the Hongxiang firm appears to have wiped its … Continue reading Corruption, Sanctions, Dandong

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