China Policy Institute Blog

Misreading Chinese History

Written by David E. Mungello. An image from the past sometimes becomes embedded in our minds and becomes an emblem, a picture expressing an allegory that shapes our view of an entire age. One such image was a widely reproduced picture of a Catholic priest carrying his suitcase up a gangway into a ship in …

Why Chopsticks? Their Origin and Development in Asian Culinary Culture

Written by Q. Edward Wang. Chopsticks are ubiquitous in Asia. They are so essential for one’s daily life in the region, or the “chopsticks cultural sphere” that encompasses China, Korean Peninsula, Japanese archipelago, and parts of Mongolia and mainland Southeast Asia. This is not only the impression most visitors to the region would have but many …

Fashion and Politics: Promoting ‘Designed in China’ through Political Power

By Christine Tsui. In 2012, the Chinese president Xi Jinping initiated an anti-corruption campaign. Although there is no explicit evidence that this was an intentional outcome at which Xi aimed, the fact is that the campaign eventually led to a big decrease in the sale of luxury brands. Because in the past luxury brands were mostly purchased by rich …

Imperial Yellow: A Costume Colour at the Top of the Social Hierarchy

Written by Jing Han. When considering popular colours in China, one’s immediate thought may be of red, the colour of the national flag and the colour of celebration. However, it is actually yellow that dominated the imperial wardrobe in ancient times. This piece will explore the hierarchy of costume colours in ancient China and tell the story of imperial …

Chinese Characteristics: The Next Big (Export) Thing?

Written by John Hartley. In my research field of Cultural Science, the role of ‘we’ and ‘they’ groups in organising knowledge is seen as crucial. Knowledge is rarely neutral. ‘Ours’ is trusted, thick with meanings that bind ‘us’ together, and applicable to all situations, while ‘theirs’ is untrusted, possibly threatening, and not in the least applicable …

Shanghai Tang: China’s Aspiring Global Fashion Brand

Written by Jonathan Schroeder, Janet Borgerson, and Zhiyan Wu. How do Chinese brands draw upon what we call ‘Chinese brand culture’ in order to create distinctively Chinese fashion? Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum in New York hosted its annual Costume Institute exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, which examined 500 years of Chinese influence on European luxury …

Fashion, China, and Trends: A Critical Perspective

Written by Tina Mai Chen and Paola Zamperini. In June 2015, the runways for Moda Uomo in Italy celebrated China in more ways than anyone could have expected even in 2007, when Jean Paul Gaultier wove his dystopian haute couture gowns inspired by a delirious conflation of Japanese and Chinese motifs in his Spring collection for …

Depicting Orientalism in the Museum

Written by Simona Segre Reinach. In the feud between curator Diana Vreeland and cultural historian Deborah Silverman, surely Diana Vreeland is the clear winner. The debate dates back to more than thirty years ago. It was 1986 when Professor Silverman published Selling Culture in which she accused the fashion exhibits in the Metropolitan Museum curated by Vreeland of …

Problems in Huallywood

Written by Zhan Zhang. Three years ago, the National Digital Film Industrial Park opened in Wuxi, not far from Shanghai, with the nickname “Huallywood” (Hua meaning China). It was viewed as “ushering in a new golden age of filmmaking in China” and “Huallywood” aimed to become a global digital film capital in China like its counterparts in the …

China’s Responsiveness to Internet Opinion: A Double-Edged Sword

Written by Jonathan Hassid. China’s obvious press censorship can mask the surprising reality that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) responds quickly to public opinion, especially when it is expressed online. The system strongly discourages political discussion and criticism but is highly responsive to incidents that evade the gauntlet of censorship and capture public attention. Commentators, reporters …