China Policy Institute Blog

Identities of Migrant worker: From Nongmin Gong (农民工) to Xin Shimin (新市民)

Written by Wei Wang. People’s identity is very much reflected on and constructed by how they are named by others. Internal migrant workers in China have experienced huge differences in terms of how they have been perceived and named during the last thirty years. During this time, economic development and rapid urbanisation in China has …

Language, National Identity and Nationalism in China

Written by Yingjie Guo. The close relationship between language, national identity and nationalism is rarely disputed. Though few would insist on a strong interconnection between language and the development of ‘intellectual peculiarity’, it is easy to agree that ancestral language and national continuity are intertwined and that nationalism has been inextricably bound up with language. …

Linguistic Challenges to China’s Centralizing Control

Written by Susan D. Blum. Challenges to authoritarian states’ control of language can be so complex that they exceed the states’ ability to manage them all. Electronic expression of resistance and increasing embrace of non-Mandarin linguistic varieties reveal powerful linguistic insights in China, which are evident too in the so-called Umbrella Revolution that took Hong …

The Avalanche of the 500,000: Why China is Exporting Students

Written by Guido Santevecchi. Beanstalk International Bilingual School (BIBS) is an unconventional international school in Beijing. Scattered in the garden in front of the building, one can see lines of tables covered by tents, providing shade from the daylight (being suntanned is not in keeping with Chinese culture). What is peculiar about these lines of tables …

Multilingualism, Discourse and Identity in China

Written by Linda Tsung. China is one of the most multilingual countries in the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China promotes the country as a harmonious and unified nation with 56 distinct ethnic groups who speak more than 400 languages. The government has not only legally recognised multilingualism, but has also publicly …

“I have an accent”: British Chinese Young People on Learning and Speaking Chinese

Written by Ada Mau. Going to ‘Chinese school’ at the weekend is an experience shared by many young people of Chinese heritage growing up in the US, UK, Australia and other Western countries. Many children start attending these community-based schools from a young age in order to learn Chinese language(s) and sometimes cultural activities such as …

The Symbolic Power of Chinese “Internet Buzzwords”

Written by Elaine Yuan. Like other social spaces in contemporary China, the Chinese Internet, with more than 600 million users, is always energetic and eventful. One of the few ways to keep pace with the bustling online scenes is by tracking “Internet buzzwords”– words or phrases that emerge from significant social events and incidents by …

China’s Language Policies

Written by Li Wei. Since 2006, China’s State Language Commission, an administrative department under the Ministry of Education, has been compiling an annual Green Paper on the so-called ‘language life’ in China. These Green Papers are published under the title Language Situation in China, and the English translation of the key parts of the reports …

Xikou, Zhejiang and Chiang Kai-shek

by Jeremy Taylor. Over the summer, I had the good fortune to participate in a conference jointly organised by the History Department at Zhejiang University and the Historical Society for Twentieth Century China. The conference was held in Hangzhou, but for one day, it decanted to the nearby town of Xikou, the birthplace of Chiang …

The BBC Mispronunciation of the Chinese Language – Just Not Cricket!

By Mike Bastin. With Wimbledon now in full flow once again and the world’s sporting eyes firmly fixed on every shot played, is it not also noteworthy to witness another Chinese sports star compete successfully on the world stage? I refer to Zheng Jie who only a few days ago ran Serena Williams so close …