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Call me Ismail

Thomas Jones: Wu Ming, 18 July 2013

by Wu Ming, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Verso, 263 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 1 78168 076 6
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... of the LBP, a fifth writer joined the four authors of Q and they formed a new collective called Wu Ming, which means ‘nameless’ (or, with a falling-rising tone on the first syllable, ‘five names’) in Chinese. They aren’t in fact anonymous, and don’t try to be: their names are Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Luca Di Meo (who left in ...

Who has the biggest books?

Craig Clunas: Missionaries in China, 7 February 2008

Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724 
by Liam Matthew Brockey.
Harvard, 496 pp., £22.95, March 2007, 978 0 674 02448 9
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... of ‘old coastal hands’ who had served as officials in the south-eastern provinces of the Ming empire. Conversation turned to the geopolitics of this sensitive frontier region, its trading enclaves and the various peoples who came to them. He heard about the most famous of these visitors, a man from the north-western extremity of the world: ‘Li ...

The Cloud Bookcase

Eliot Weinberger, 28 July 2011

... is unknown. Comprehensive Collection of True Facts Concerning the Land of Bliss by Liu Tao-ming (c.1291) Diagrams Illustrating the Mystery of the Cultivation of Truth, the Mystery of the Supreme Pole, and the Mystery of the Primordial Chaos by Anonymous (12th century) Contains only the diagrams with no explanations. Dividing the Pear in a Period of ...


Gerald Hammond: Taiwan and China, 3 September 1998

... PRC call the transfer of the collection an act of piracy, and the man who masterminded it, Han Lih-wu, a war criminal: but one of the questions which goes through your mind as you wander through the Museum’s galleries is what would have happened if it had been housed in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. More than 65,000 pieces, including four thousand ...


Leslie Wilson: On Chinese Magic, 12 May 1994

... I was last in Hong Kong, I visited the Middle Kingdom, a quasi-educational theme park featuring Ming Dynasty houses, rice paper-making, Chinese acrobats, and a functioning Chinese temple complete with fortune sticks, where I joined a queue to get a divination. We were flying back to England that evening, so, when I’d shaken the sticks, I was annoyed to be ...

How to Kowtow

D.J. Enright: The thoughts of China, 29 July 1999

The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds 
by Jonathan Spence.
Penguin, 279 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7139 9313 8
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... were followed by diplomats (allowed into Peking when the Qing Government succeeded the Ming), with their more ‘realistic’ complaints about summer heat and dust, and the difficulty of keeping one’s hat in place while performing the nine prostrations of the kowtow. John Bell, a Scottish doctor attached to a Russian embassy c.1720, didn’t ...

Somewhere in the Web

Michael Dillon: Uyghur Identity, 5 January 2023

The Great Dispossession: Uyghurs between Civilisations 
by Ildiko Bellér Hann and Chris Hann.
Lit Verlag, 296 pp., £35, February, 978 3 643 91367 8
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How I Survived a Chinese ‘Re-education’ Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story 
by Gulbahar Haitiwaji and Rozenn Morgat, translated by Edward Gauvin.
Canbury, 250 pp., £18.99, February, 978 1 912454 90 7
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The Chief Witness: Escape from China’s Modern-Day Concentration Camps 
by Sayragul Sauytbay and Alexandra Cavelius, translated by Caroline Waight.
Scribe, 320 pp., £16.99, May 2021, 978 1 913348 60 1
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In the Camps: Life in China’s High-Tech Penal Colony 
by Darren Byler.
Atlantic, 152 pp., £12.99, February, 978 1 83895 592 2
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... are the inheritors of a tradition of border-guarding that can be traced back to at least the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The farmers also provide militias that can be called out to support the police and the military, and have acquired a reputation for ruthlessly suppressing Uyghurs. The bingtuan operate their own prison system in Xinjiang in parallel with ...

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