Nick Holdstock

Nick Holdstock is the author of China's Forgotten People and The Casualties, a novel.

From The Blog
11 September 2020

Liu Yifei, the star of Disney’s new live-action remake of its 1998 cartoon Mulan, posted a message on Weibo last year expressing support for the Hong Kong police as they were brutally suppressing protests in the city. Her comments prompted an online campaign to boycott the movie. The campaign received new impetus this month when it was discovered that parts of the film had been shot in Xinjiang in 2018, when it was already widely known that more than a million people, mostly Uyghurs, were being detained in ‘re-education’ facilities, subject to brainwashing, violence and intimidation. The movie credits thank the Communist Party’s publicity department and the Public Security Bureau for the Turpan prefecture, where at least ten internment camps are operating. ‘It has generated a lot of publicity,’ Disney’s chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, said yesterday. ‘Let’s leave it at that.’

Burning Books

Nick Holdstock, 22 July 2010

I began burning books during my third year in China. The first book I burned was called A Swedish Gospel Singer. On the cover there was a drawing of a blonde girl wearing a crucifix with her mouth wide open and musical notes floating out of it. Inside was a story, written in simple English, about a Swedish girl who loved to sing. One day, passing a church, she heard a wonderful sound. When...

In Ürümqi: the Uighur Riots

Nick Holdstock, 6 August 2009

This is what we know for sure: on 5 July violence broke out in the northwestern Chinese city of Ürümqi, the provincial capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Cars and buses were set on fire. News reports showed footage of rioters beating and kicking people. We saw a four-year-old boy, his head bandaged, on a hospital trolley. He had been clinging to his pregnant...

From The Blog
3 April 2019

The Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash was arrested in Almaty last month, and charged with extremism and inciting ‘inter-ethnic hatred’. The police later raided the office of his organisation, Atajurt, confiscated computers and documents, and sealed the premises. For the past two years Atajurt has been campaigning on behalf of the Kazakh citizens detained in the huge network of concentration camps across the Chinese border in Xinjiang.

From The Blog
16 August 2018

When I met Professor Rahile Dawut in Urumqi in 2013, we didn’t talk about the soldiers and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets of the Uighur neighbourhoods. I didn’t ask her about the transformation of Xinjiang’s capital into an intensively policed space, or the government’s spurious claims that the region was under threat from Islamist terrorists, in part because discussing such topics, even in private, seemed too dangerous for any Chinese citizen. It was far safer to confine our talk to her extensive, brilliant ethnographic research into Xinjiang’s rich and plural cultural traditions, most notably her work on mazâr, the shrines of local saints dotted around the region, most of them in remote desert locations. She was funny, modest about her work, and gracious enough to listen to my anecdotes about visiting shrines in other parts of Xinjiang. Last week, Dawut’s family announced that she has been missing since December.

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