POSTED on 19 July 2015 by Andrew Asquith

Mining and Cultural Heritage at Mes Aynak: Shared interests between China and Afghanistan

Earlier this month, the documentary Saving Mes Aynak by filmmaker Brent Huffman was released online. Mes Aynak, located in Afghanistan between Kabul and the Pakistani border, contains the ruins of an ancient Buddhist settlement from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. The site contains hundreds of statues, frescoes and buildings. However, the site sits atop a massive deposit of copper. Saving Mes Aynak tells the story of Afghan and French archaeologists trying to save Mes Aynak before work on the copper mine begins. Saving Mes Aynak raises some interesting issues about how China is perceived and how China conducts itself in trans-national disputes. There is a popular perception that China’s demand for natural resources necessarily leads to the destruction of natural and cultural heritage where mining takes place.[1] China requires vast amounts of natural resources to meet the needs of its domestic population and economic development. Transnational mining projects like Mes Aynak bring much needed revenue and jobs. However, mining has major implications for the natural and cultural heritage of the areas where it takes place. The Mes Aynak Copper Mine raises many of the well-known issues of China’s conduct in transnational affairs, such as concerns that the local people […]

Earlier this month, the documentary Saving Mes Aynak by filmmaker Brent Huffman was released online. Mes Aynak, located in Afghanistan between Kabul and the Pakistani border, contains the ruins of an ancient Buddhist settlement from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. The site contains hundreds of statues, frescoes and buildings. However, the site sits atop a massive deposit of copper. Saving Mes Aynak tells the story of Afghan and French archaeologists trying to save Mes Aynak before work on the copper mine begins. Saving Mes Aynak raises some interesting issues about how China is perceived and how China conducts itself in trans-national disputes. There is a popular perception that China’s demand for natural resources necessarily leads to the destruction of natural and cultural heritage where mining takes place.[1] China requires vast amounts of natural resources to meet the needs of its domestic population and economic development. Transnational mining projects like Mes Aynak bring much needed revenue and jobs. However, mining has major implications for the natural and cultural heritage of the areas where it takes place. The Mes Aynak Copper Mine raises many of the well-known issues of China’s conduct in transnational affairs, such as concerns that the local people […]

POSTED on 10 June 2015 by Julia Luong Dinh

How far can we understand China in a new era?

The conversation between Professor Kerry Brown and the former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, organised by the Australia-China Relations Institute of UTS on 30 April 2015, was an insight into the minds of the Chinese leaders. It shed light on Chinese leaders’ incredible mission as chief strategists, if not the Great Helmsmen, of the China ship, as well as their issues with steering China in its stormy relationship with peripheral and neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific. During the session, Professor Brown reiterated the importance of understanding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the key to understanding Beijing’s rules, both formal and informal, in running its political structure, signaling the West’s increasing awareness and acceptance of the differences between Western and Chinese political systems. High on the agenda of top leaders is the commitment to safeguard and maintain the inviolability of the CCP’s legitimacy in the new era. Professor Brown contends that ideology is really important in helping us make sense of Chinese politics. He notes that there are at least two key members officially in charge of ideological work, Liu Yunshan, the Head of the Party School, number five in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – nicknamed ‘Defender of the Faith’ […]

The conversation between Professor Kerry Brown and the former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, organised by the Australia-China Relations Institute of UTS on 30 April 2015, was an insight into the minds of the Chinese leaders. It shed light on Chinese leaders’ incredible mission as chief strategists, if not the Great Helmsmen, of the China ship, as well as their issues with steering China in its stormy relationship with peripheral and neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific. During the session, Professor Brown reiterated the importance of understanding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the key to understanding Beijing’s rules, both formal and informal, in running its political structure, signaling the West’s increasing awareness and acceptance of the differences between Western and Chinese political systems. High on the agenda of top leaders is the commitment to safeguard and maintain the inviolability of the CCP’s legitimacy in the new era. Professor Brown contends that ideology is really important in helping us make sense of Chinese politics. He notes that there are at least two key members officially in charge of ideological work, Liu Yunshan, the Head of the Party School, number five in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – nicknamed ‘Defender of the Faith’ […]

POSTED on 27 April 2015 by Kerry Brown

‘China’s 3 dreams’ review

Please join us on Monday 4 May 2015 for the ‘China 3 Dreams’ film screening  and panel discussion.  We’ve heard Chinese politicians in recent years wax lyrical about the `China Dream’. Indeed, since late 2012 it has been one of the signature slogans for Xi Jinping, something combining aspiration and abstraction, the sort of mix that gives leaders the public attention and engagement they seek without the entrapment of detail. Looking harder at anyone’s dreams though is always unsettling. The social policy expert Gerard Lemos authored a book in 2012 simply entitled `The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future’ (Yale University Press). Dreaming is not solely about hope. Sometimes, it is not about hope at all. It is an oddity of both the English and Mandarin Chinese languages that despite this on the whole the word `dream’ is largely a positive one – positive enough at least for politicians to try to recruit it to their causes. One of the main characters documented in `China’s 3 Dreams’ comes out with the wonderful line that if you are going to cry, it is better to do so in a Mercedes car than on a bike. The wealthy […]

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Please join us on Monday 4 May 2015 for the ‘China 3 Dreams’ film screening  and panel discussion.  We’ve heard Chinese politicians in recent years wax lyrical about the `China Dream’. Indeed, since late 2012 it has been one of the signature slogans for Xi Jinping, something combining aspiration and abstraction, the sort of mix that gives leaders the public attention and engagement they seek without the entrapment of detail. Looking harder at anyone’s dreams though is always unsettling. The social policy expert Gerard Lemos authored a book in 2012 simply entitled `The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future’ (Yale University Press). Dreaming is not solely about hope. Sometimes, it is not about hope at all. It is an oddity of both the English and Mandarin Chinese languages that despite this on the whole the word `dream’ is largely a positive one – positive enough at least for politicians to try to recruit it to their causes. One of the main characters documented in `China’s 3 Dreams’ comes out with the wonderful line that if you are going to cry, it is better to do so in a Mercedes car than on a bike. The wealthy […]

POSTED on 16 April 2015 by Kerry Brown and Philipp Ivanov (CEO, Asia Society Australia)

Thinking Big about Big China

It has been over three months since President Xi Jinping visited Australia. A western, and now Chinese new year, has been and gone. Where do Australia-China relations stand now after a watershed year marked by the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations and respective and substantive bilateral visits by Australian and Chinese leaders? And what are the prospects in the coming year when we move from laying the foundations of our political and economic engagement – Strategic Partnership and FTA respectively – to building and expanding the areas of the relationship where our interests align and benefits are mutual. Xi certainly made a big effort when he came here to make Australia feel like it mattered to China. The visual symbolism of the visit (which does matter in state-to-state interactions) was that of ‘Big China’ and its grand arrival to the world stage. It was most noticeably manifested in the size of Xi’s entourage – Foreign and Commerce Ministers and the Foreign Affairs Councilor, eight provincial governors and a few dozens of CEOs of China’s leading enterprises. Xi pushed ahead with the visit to the last Australian state he had not previously visited – Tasmania – one of the […]

Beijing

It has been over three months since President Xi Jinping visited Australia. A western, and now Chinese new year, has been and gone. Where do Australia-China relations stand now after a watershed year marked by the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations and respective and substantive bilateral visits by Australian and Chinese leaders? And what are the prospects in the coming year when we move from laying the foundations of our political and economic engagement – Strategic Partnership and FTA respectively – to building and expanding the areas of the relationship where our interests align and benefits are mutual. Xi certainly made a big effort when he came here to make Australia feel like it mattered to China. The visual symbolism of the visit (which does matter in state-to-state interactions) was that of ‘Big China’ and its grand arrival to the world stage. It was most noticeably manifested in the size of Xi’s entourage – Foreign and Commerce Ministers and the Foreign Affairs Councilor, eight provincial governors and a few dozens of CEOs of China’s leading enterprises. Xi pushed ahead with the visit to the last Australian state he had not previously visited – Tasmania – one of the […]

POSTED on 01 April 2015 by Alexandra Grey

Trends in Ethnic Identity and Language among China’s Minority Youths

Language is a political resource, mobilized by different people for different purposes. This is a familiar idea; there are scholarly works, newspaper columns and movies about the deliberately strategic use of language by politicians. For example, in the China studies sphere, President Xi Jinping’s linguistic stamp – “Chinese Dream” [“中国梦”] – prompts commentary. But beyond the particular words chosen by politicians, the very language used as their standard medium of communication is also a political, symbolically-loaded, identity-forming choice. Likewise for non-politicians, language is a political and identity-forming resource, a source of symbolic and other values. In my research, I start from the premise that language use by everyday people, not politicians, is also very interesting. In the context of China, the use of languages other than Putonghua (the standard Chinese language) is particularly interesting. In China, what are foreign and minority languages mobilized for? What do they symbolise? Who uses them, and who sticks to Putonghua; when and why? These questions reveal something of the diversity within China. They lead to knowledge about geopolitics and social change within China. Changing uses of China’s minority languages is my particular research focus. These changes are sometimes fault lines for political and ethnic […]

Language is a political resource, mobilized by different people for different purposes. This is a familiar idea; there are scholarly works, newspaper columns and movies about the deliberately strategic use of language by politicians. For example, in the China studies sphere, President Xi Jinping’s linguistic stamp – “Chinese Dream” [“中国梦”] – prompts commentary. But beyond the particular words chosen by politicians, the very language used as their standard medium of communication is also a political, symbolically-loaded, identity-forming choice. Likewise for non-politicians, language is a political and identity-forming resource, a source of symbolic and other values. In my research, I start from the premise that language use by everyday people, not politicians, is also very interesting. In the context of China, the use of languages other than Putonghua (the standard Chinese language) is particularly interesting. In China, what are foreign and minority languages mobilized for? What do they symbolise? Who uses them, and who sticks to Putonghua; when and why? These questions reveal something of the diversity within China. They lead to knowledge about geopolitics and social change within China. Changing uses of China’s minority languages is my particular research focus. These changes are sometimes fault lines for political and ethnic […]

Chinese Tea Set