April China Seminar

April 14, 2022

LANGUAGE AND NATIONALISM IN CHINA

featuring
Dr. Gina Anne Tam
Associate Professor, Chinese History
Co-Chair, Women and Gender Studies
Trinity University

Today, it is often presumed that there is one Chinese language– being what we in English call Mandarin– and a number of Chinese dialects, among which include better-known ones such as Cantonese or Taiwanese. But where do these designations of language and dialect come from, and what effect does this have on Chinese collective identity today? This talk will focus on how the presumption that non-Mandarin Chinese languages are nothing more than “dialects” resulted from battles over competing understandings of the Chinese nation that began in the early twentieth century and were solidified in the early years of the PRC, narrating how the legacies built decades ago built the foundation for the linguistic hierarchies that define the relationship between language and identity in China today.

Dr. Gina Anne Tam is an Associate professor of Chinese history and co-chair of Women and Gender Studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Having received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2016, her research and teaching focuses on the construction of collective identity– national belonging, ethnicity and race– in modern China. In addition to her book Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860-1960, she has also published peer-reviewed work in top academic journals and has written about the relevance of her work to current events in Foreign AffairsThe Nation, and Dissent. She is also a Public Intellectual Program Fellow through the National Committee on US-China relations. She is currently working on a new book project on the role of women and gender in the history of grassroots protests in post-war Hong Kong. 


The China Seminar was founded by Dr. Daniel W.Y. Kwok 45 years ago. Under his guidance, it became a signature program of the Friends of the East-West Center (FEWC) in 2009. The program provides an informal venue for China experts, such as scholars, diplomats, and journalists, to present talks on aspects of China that interest the community and members of the Friends. Topics include politics, economics, social issues, history, culture, food, arts, and many other subjects. Though Dr. Kwok has recently retired from his involvement with the program, the FEWC and the East-West Center remain committed to continuing this important program.

March China Seminar

March 10, 2022 | 12:00 p.m. HST

HONG KONG’S NATIONAL SECURITY LAW
Can Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law Survive?

featuring
Carole J. Petersen
Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

The National Security Law (NSL) of 2020 has fundamentally changed Hong Kong’s system of criminal justice.  Hundreds of residents have been arrested under the NSL, primarily for non-violent speech acts or for political activities that were perfectly legal in Hong Kong prior to the enactment of the NSL. Arrestees commonly sit in jail for more than a year before trial, because the NSL reversed Hong Kong’s presumption in favor of bail for “security related” offenses.  Hong Kong’s treasured civil liberties thus hang by a thread.  The city still enjoys greater religious freedom, access to the internet, and freedom of expression than Mainland China.  But those remaining freedoms exist only because Beijing has chosen to tolerate them, perhaps hoping that the local government can still market Hong Kong as a viable city for international business.  In theory, Hong Kong’s common law legal system will continue to protect you and your business – so long as you avoid criticizing the central government and have nothing to do with competitive politics.

Carole J. Petersen is a Professor in the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  She taught law in Hong Kong from 1989 to 2006 and continues to research “One Country, Two Systems” as a model of regional autonomy.  In 2020, she published “The Disappearing Firewall: The International Consequences of Beijing’s Decision to Impose a National Security Law and Operate National Security Institutions in Hong Kong” in Volume 50 of the Hong Kong Law Journal.  Professor Petersen holds a BA from the University of Chicago, a JD from Harvard Law School, and a Postgraduate Diploma in the Law of the People’s Republic of China from the University of Hong Kong.


The China Seminar was founded by Dr. Daniel W.Y. Kwok 45 years ago. Under his guidance, it became a signature program of the Friends of the East-West Center (FEWC) in 2009. The program provides an informal venue for China experts, such as scholars, diplomats, and journalists, to present talks on aspects of China that interest the community and members of the Friends. Topics include politics, economics, social issues, history, culture, food, arts, and many other subjects. Though Dr. Kwok has recently retired from his involvement with the program, the FEWC and the East-West Center remain committed to continuing this important program.