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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Life with a dissident in China: searching for ‘horizontal freedom’

The role of women in house churches in China reminds us of both the social malleability of religion and the complexity of female agency.

Hong Kong’s angry young millennials: an interview with Joshua Wong

The student protest leader has been the centre of western media attention, but he’s not without his critics within Hong Kong’s Occupy movement. Joshua Wong tells us why his struggle for democracy isn’t over yet.

China and the coming crisis

Look to China, if you want to locate the downfall of capitalism. It could happen a lot sooner than we think.

Digital capitalism: stagnation and contention?

Capitalist development has undergone – and inflicted – violent historical dislocations in the past. So it is with digital capitalism today.

Beijing tightens the screws

The Chinese state is now more ideological and more repressive than ever since the days of Mao.

President Xi Jinping, this is how you can win the Nobel peace prize

From his new position of power, Xi Jinping can show that China is a generous emerging power, rather than a vengeful revisionist state.

Behind China’s witch-hunt for ‘market manipulators’

China may pay lip service to free markets. But in the mind-set of its officials, free markets can only be free as long as they serve the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.

Is this China’s Chernobyl moment?

The Tianjin explosion, which temporarily darkened the skies in one part of China, could end up darkening the public’s mood vis-à-vis the authorities across the country.

Contested symbiosis: state-NGO relations in China

To ‘beat the government at its own game’, Chinese NGOs need to act as rebels and conformists at the same time.

China's 'great firewall' just got taller

The recently released draft of the new ‘cyber security law’ formalises already existing censorship practices and gives greater authority to the Cyberspace Administration of China. 

Democracy's dying days?

Political meritocracy distinguishes China's political system from other non-democratic political systems and is central to the country's success. Yet it continues to be misunderstood by western intellectuals. A response to Stein Ringen.

Privacy under threat in Hong Kong

23,946 warrantless metadata requests raise privacy concerns for Hong Kong’s online activists. The loss of online privacy is not a price we want to pay.

Jeju island and the war mindset in Asia and the Pacific

Jeju is called the Island of Peace, but in spite of seven years of constant large protests it's where the South Korean military has almost finished construction of a new naval base. 

Chasing dreams in Guangzhou

Måns Månsson’s film Stranded in Canton straddles false promises and Sino-African culture clash. At the Open City Documentary Festival on 17 June 2015.

From the city to the villages!

Xu Hongjie’s achingly beautiful film On the Rim of the Sky traces the texture of China’s everyday life, at the borders of modernization. At the Open City Documentary Festival on 21 June 2015.

Is Chinese autocracy outperforming western democracy?

The author suggests that China’s regime could put itself to a referendum – a democratic referendum against electoral democracy. He expects it would win that referendum. Book review.

The renewable revolution

Four reasons why the transition from fossil fuels to a green energy era is gaining traction.

Matching resistance to repression in China

For domestic rights defenders in China’s high-capacity authoritarian regime, strategic actions rather than tactics of sudden unrest can achieve more in a situation of slow-onset repression.

Banking on human rights

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank can contribute to the urgent socio-economic needs of people throughout the region, but only if member countries ensure its respect for rights.

Trouble in paradise

Months before Hong Kong’s Occupy unleashed popular frustration onto the streets, a refugee movement adopted occupation tactics to protest the social marginalization of asylum seekers.

China, the idea-hungry nation

China's restless intellectual energy carries an echo of Austria-Hungary in the pre-1914 years.

The right to Hong Kong

The protest camps have been cleared. But Hong Kong’s Occupy movement has laid bare the struggle for space that rages across the city.

Asia at the crossroads

Aside from China, nearly all the states in Asia make use of the trappings of democracy, such as elections, parliaments, and the separation of powers. A new report examines the future of democracy in Asia in the next 15 years.

China, questions of loyalty

What determines political survival among China's party elite? Where are the traps that ensnare men like Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua? The ambiguities of loyalty are a useful way to bring these questions into focus. 

Tamed by Beijing

The death knell for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution was sounded even as the movement entered December. The final days saw Beijing play its hand well, through the careful application of minimal force and strategic patience.

China, the limits of exception

China's leaders present two stories about their country to the world. The gap between them is a recipe for growing tension.

Welcome to the not-so-new world order

The latest IMF report has confirmed what some have long argued – ‘rising powers’ like Russia and China are changing the world, but not in the way you might think.


The party rules

What lies behind the Chinese Communist Party elite’s foregrounding of the ‘rule of law’? With China's declining economic growth rate and widening income inequality, the basic rationale at the heart of the party's right to rule is at risk.

Weighing history in China

A memoir of the cultural revolution both reveals the human cost of that era in China and helps explain the curious strategy of its current leadership.

Hong Kong’s umbrella movement

The movement could benefit from encouraging splits within the seemingly unified voice of the elite, bound to have its internal conflicts. Then there are new challenges and new nonviolent opportunities, planned and unplanned.

Resistance, repression, and the cycle of violence in the Uyghur Struggle

Is the state actively engaged in decreasing participation in nonviolent resistance and delegitimizing Uyghur grievances by highlighting escalating violence?

Prominent Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti jailed for life

With its shocking outcome, this trial might result in an increase in violence in the Xinjiang region, where protests for the mistreatment of a moderate voice could motivate the more radical factions.

Violence in Hong Kong: the translated evidence

Hong Kong Democracy Now is a voluntary working group translating videos and articles to support international media coverage of Hong Kong’s civil disobedience movement.  They are maintaining an updated list of verified sources detailing police brutality.

The cause of labour is Hong Kong’s hope

The voice of the labour movement has been ignored in the international media coverage of Hong Kong’s Occupy protest. Trade unions have taken to the street not only in the name of universal suffrage, but for the sake of social justice.

Umbrella revolution: the academy reflects on Hong Kong’s struggle

Two professors in Hong Kong interview fellow academics, student activists and graduate students from mainland China in order to draw out Hong Kong’s history in relation to globalising forms of political expression. Colonial history, neoliberal urban governance, and Chinese authoritarianism all bear on the current unrest.

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