Page 1

Cover Photo Author: Joseph Brennan Scholars experiencing traditonal shadow play at the Xi'an Field Trip (2015)


Myriad Paths


Sudarshana Chanda

––––– Art & Culture –––––

A Door Opened


Professor Donald Stone

International Art Association


Zhang Junlan

Introducitng Armenia to PKU Primary School


Ani Grigoryan

The Greedy Tounges


Ani Grigoryan

Yenching Photo Contest


Organized by Nicola Angeli

––––– Opinions ––––– Brexiting, Remaining or Cancelling the Vote A Wonderful Political and Democratic Experiment

Jean-François Maurice


Being LGBTW in Contemporary China From Straight-Gay Marriages to the Rise Of Xinghun


Magdalena Gonzalez

Prof. Lin Yifu and the Development of Chinese Economics


Jackson Tse

China-Africa Journalism Forum How China and Africa See Each Other


Sihle Nontshokweni

Revisiting the Issues of the South China Sea


Alex Palmer

Questioning settled dogmas

What really happened in Turkey on 15th of June?


Onurcan Ülker,

–––––– Academic

An Examination of the Themes Shared by H. P. Lovecraft and Lu Xun.


Honey Watson



Myriad Paths

题 专


Sudarshana Chanda, India 2016 scholar from India, shares her thoughts before coming to the Yenching Academy. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…


hen I read these words as a 12 year old, I

were made weak and forced to stay weak through centuries of

wondered about this paradoxical era that

violent suppression.

Dickens wrote about a hundred and fifty eight years ago. Little did I realize that nothing would come to echo the truth of those words more than this, our contemporary world.

Our first education was in prejudice. Us and them. They are like that. And we -we are like this only, as the famous pidgin English saying goes. Our very identity founded

We’re moving at a truly thunderous pace, ferociously

on “otherization”, on what we were not. And textbooks

trying to globalize, to become one large global community-

perpetuate this. We discovered this, they stole from us, we

and yet, in this era where boundaries are blurry and worlds

were glorious but they looted us. They needed us, they were

are shrinking, there is tension. There is not just tension, but

barbarians before we taught them civilized living.

rivalry and conflict. Our generation has not seen a world war, and yet, we seem to be ploughing through a world in which

You’d think education was supposed to help us evolve.

the history of war is very much alive. We come from heritage, all of us. Even newly born And we, in the midst of all this, are a truly curious bunch.

nations are old fragments, newly free. And we’re taught to be

An eclectic potpourri, curated by the Yenching Academy of

proud of this. And yet, from this pride stems arrogance and

Peking University. We have a pretty unique challenge before

prejudice. It seems to me that the folks at YCA know this very

us. We come from different places, different backgrounds,

well. Why else would they bring people from over 40 different

with at least two decades of a particular way of life, behind

countries and bring them together for a whole year, till their

us. We come from different nations. Nations that have not

histories of contestation are frozen- not forgotten, but frozen

always liked or gotten along with each other. Nations that

into a mirror of collective self awareness and humanistic

have at times warred with each other. Conquered, invaded

understanding. Till they no longer care who discovered what,

and inflicted brutalities on each other. Those who held power

but are thankful that it was discovered.

oppressed those who were weak. Those who were not weak, 1 | Yenching Yenching Review Review

专题 We represent an aspiration. If some of our world leaders

not cared to involve millions of poor in the struggle for India’s

had been at YCA, together for a year to challenge, debate,

freedom, if Shirin Ebadi had not cared for refugees, if Lincoln

argue, empathize and understand each other, then perhaps

had not cared to stand up against slavery, and if Ross Russell

history would have taken a different route.

had not cared to support Charlie Parker so he could create ‘LoverMan’. Their empathy led them to do what they did, and

My intention is not to present before you a grim picture of the world we live in. The world we live in is intensely

gave rise to the beauty in our lives. Empathy, after all, has a way of tampering with the soul.

beautiful, as is clearly exemplified by our very own campus here at Beida.

We have come through myriad journeys, and after this year, we may walk myriad paths. But we will have been

But in a community like ours, the risk of forgetting the

affected. Changed. Tempered. By this city, by this program,

past threatens the role we are to play in our collective future.

and by each other. And we will be better for it. It may not

It is threatened by self-congratulation.

always be easy; in fact, I’m sure it will not be. But something tells me it will be nothing short of extraordinary.

There is no doubt that there is something remarkable about what is happening here, about each one of us and even more so about us as a community. But my confidence is that if we recognize our privilege, we will be and do far better for it. We know now that education is not the great equalizer. It does not dissolve difference. And perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps education should help us acknowledge our differences and respect them, so we can build empathy. So we can empathize with those who disagree with us. With those who challenge the beliefs we hold dear and close. With those who go against the status quo, and also with those who reinforce and reinstate it. And this empathy, this empathy cannot be birthed out of individualistic living. This empathy cannot survive in a world where each human is a disjointed atom, an island, a rock. Where it is fashionable to sport a ‘don’t care’ attitude. Imagine a world if Da Vinci had not cared to trace every sinew in the human body, if Orwell had not cared to defend Wodehouse, if Mandela had not cared to accommodate white south Africans in post apartheid South Africa, if Gandhi had Feature | 2

艺术 文化

Art & Culture

A Door Opened –––––––

by Professor Donald Stone Curator of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University –––––––


n every person's life, I think, there's a moment when a

of 1982 I taught courses in English literature at Beijing Teacher's

door suddenly, unexpectedly opens, and you have the

College (later renamed Capital Normal University). I encountered

chance to walk through that door or else miss out on one of

the most extraordinary students I had ever met, some of whom are

life's potentially great experiences. In my case, the door opened

now among my closest friends, and I fell in love with China.

in 1980. While teaching at Harvard Summer School, I met an extraordinary Chinese scholar, Zhu Hong, who was part of an

I also fell in love with modern Chinese painting. All my life

exchange program set up between the Chinese Academy of Social

I have loved art, but in 1982 it seemed to me that Chinese artists

Science and the Academy of Science in Washington D.C. She knew

were painting the most beautiful modern works of the late 20th

my work on Victorian writers (especially Elizabeth Gaskell), and

century. With the help of one of my Teachers College students,

she immediately invited me to come teach in China! At the time

Sun Zhixin (who is currently one of the leading curators at the

I thought that going to China would be like going to the Moon,

Metropolitan Museum, New York), I bought works by Cui Zifan,

but I accepted her offer, I walked through that door and in the fall

Li Kuchan, Huang Yongyu, and other masters. I couldn't afford a

3 | Yenching Yenching Review Review


Qi Bashi or a Li Keran, but in those days you could buy a beautiful

throughout China, and with the proliferation of good-quality art

Wu Guanzhong for 500 yuan. My students, however, were mostly

books, more and more Chinese people became familiar with their

horrified when they saw what I had bought, and they thought I

great artists, past and present. I noticed, however, an interesting

should take my gorgeous Wu Guanzhong back to Rong Baozhai

paradox. Western museums in New York, London, Paris are filled

Gallery and get my money back. I refused. In 1991, when I

with Chinese masterpieces, and scholars in the west study Chinese

returned to China (this time as guest of CASS), I could no longer

painting: James Cahill and Michael Sullivan being two of the

afford a painting by Wu, but I could buy beautiful works by his

foremost authorities on Chinese art. But in China, few scholars

student Liu Yongming, with whom I became acquainted. A few

seemed to be studying western artists, and no Chinese museum

years ago Mr Liu painted for me the favorite Chinese work in my

contained (as of 2007) notable collections of western art! Except

art collection: a depiction of the Beida magpies, which I'm very

for visiting exhibitions from the West, Chinese viewers had little

fond of. It hangs in my New York bedroom, and it's the last thing I

chance to see an original Rembrandt or Picasso.

see before I go to bed and the first thing I see when I awake. So in 2007 I decided to do what I could to create a western As a result perhaps of the Cultural Revolution, my Teachers

art collection in China, in a very modest way, as I was living on

College students' lack of appreciation of the great living artists

my American pension. By then I had retired from teaching at the

also extended (in 1982) to their lack of knowledge of ancient

City University of New York, and had begun my second teaching

Chinese painting. When I returned to China, I would sometimes

career at Peking University. Needless to say, this has been the most

bring books on Chinese painting to introduce my friends to such

fulfilling experience of my life. I have frequently described the

great masters as Fan Kuan, Ni Zan, Ma Yuan, Daoji (Shitao),

Beida students as the finest on the planet and also the kindest.

and others. Fortunately, with the building of great museums

Since 2006 they, my English Department colleagues (and the

Art & Culture | 4

wonderful secretaries Sophie and Brook, and kind Mrs Zhang

In January I received an online catalogue from a French art dealer

Minyan in the Foreign Affairs office) have made me feel at home

(who had already sold me works for the "Gods and Heroes"

at this superb college, and I am hugely grateful. That is why I have

exhibition) containing two superb Titian landscapes. They will

assembled this collection, currently amounting to 420 western

be centrepieces in the new exhibition. But in the same catalogue

prints and drawings - to express my gratitude.

containing the Titians, I noted ONE landscape etching by Rubens, selling for 6000 euros (about 44, 200 Chinese yuan). The Rubens

We began modestly, in 2007, with an exhibition devoted to

is part of a series of twenty magnificent landscape etchings printed

the illustrations to Hamlet made by the great French Romantic

in Antwerp in 1640. Last year, at an auction in New York, I bought

artist Eugene Delacroix (best known for his painting "Liberty

the ENTIRE SERIES of twenty landscapes for about $1000 US.

Leading the People"). Only eighty sets of this great series were

(They had been consigned to auction by the Philadelphia Museum-

published in 1843, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Beida

-a wonderful provenance.) That means I was lucky enough to

now has one of the complete sets. We followed this up with

acquire the equivalent of 880,000 yuan worth of art for about 6600

exhibitions devoted to artists from the 20th, 19th, and 18th

yuan!!! The prints were of identical quality and rarity. For the fall

centuries. One exhibition was devoted to western landscapes. By

exhibition, we will exhibit the entire set of twenty. At present four

way of comparison, we displayed a fabulous etching of the Swiss

of these beautiful prints are on view at the Sackler Museum.

Alps by Peter Bruegel alongside a reproduction of a Ma Yuan painting of mountain peaks - to show affinities between the great

For 2917 I am planning an exhibition of British prints and

Chinese and western artists. By 2013 (in an exhibition titled

drawings and an exhibition of Western master drawings for 2018.

"Collecting Western Art for China") we were able to display 130

I will continue to look for good-quality artworks that I can afford,

works ranging from Rembrandt to Picasso. For 2015 our theme was

but it isn't easy. Yesterday there was an auction of old master and

"Gods and Heroes: Western Artists and the Classical Tradition."

modern prints in New York, and the prices were way beyond my

The English Department hosted a well-attended conference on

reach. I often feel like the leech-gatherer, described by Wordsworth

Western Mythology to accompany the opening of the exhibition.

in "Resolution and Independence," who looks for leeches (used in

Such famous scholars as Professor Zhang Longxi and Beida's own

the 19th century for medicinal purposes):

Liu Chun and Thomas Rendall delivered memorable talks.

"Once I could meet with them on every side;

At present I am preparing an exhibition devoted to the

But they have dwindled long by slow decay;

Renaissance and 17th century masters, including such major figures

Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."

as Raphael, Titian, Bruegel, Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Rubens. Finding important and affordable works by these artists is not easy, given my limited financial means. But fortunately, my art dealers in the West have been generous in their pricing of the artworks (two of them have donated works to the museum). Also I have been greatly aided by Chinese benefactors, Mr Wang Long and Mr Weng Hongwei, who have helped me to buy major works for the museum. On a number of occasions I have been lucky. For example, in preparing the new exhibition, I wanted to acquire woodcuts by the great Venetian Renaissance artist Titian.

5 | Yenching Review

"Still I persevere," because the best students on the planet deserve only the best art.


International Art Association ––––––––– by Zhang Junlan, China –––––––––


street. We also want to see arts from other cultures expressed and discussed in our association. There might be a gap between different

ringing together eager artists and those interested in the

languages but there is no gap between the different arts. We want

long history and heritage of Chinese art, the Yenching

to use arts to deepen the progress of cultural communication and

International Art Association was established in April 2016. The

increase mutual understanding.

original idea of founding this association was inspired by Iuliia Leonovich, a Yenching scholar, with whom we shared the same

Following this aim, we have so far organized two cultural

hobby – painting.. She is an enthusiastic lover of Chinese painting

exchange activities, which enhance the mutual cultural

and calligraphy and was looking to find a stage where can learn

understanding between China and the West. The first activity

and communicate with fellow art lovers. I felt exactly the same at

was a calligraphy workshop.. We invited Ms. Zhou Dongfen,

that time and began to think about finding a place, where we can

the Professor of the culture salon of Yenching Academy to be our

practice and communicate about art together. One special class

speaker. Several Yenching scholars took part in this event. Ms.

offered by Prof. Liu Chen, the teacher of our core course “Art of

Zhou conducted a speech on the history of Chinese calligraphy in

China”, finally facilitated our idea of establishing this association.

the beginning, providing in depth knowledge of the evolution of

She invited Dr. Wang Han from Art College of Peking University to conduct a Chinese painting workshop. In that workshop, we found there were exactly wide interests in Chinese art among our classmates from different culture backgrounds and some of them even showed a great talent. Many of them expressed their willingness of having further learning and communication activities and we finally decided to run an association for communication about art. We fixed the mission of our association as promoting traditional Chinese art to international friends through a practical way. From my point of view, Chinese painting and calligraphy are great culture treasures of China, and are essential for understanding Chinese culture in total. For international students who have great interests in Chinese culture and want to have a full-range of knowledge about it, it would be a great opportunity to experience those culture treasures in a practical way. Furthermore, communication is never a one-way

Art & Culture | 6

Chinese calligraphy from pre-Qin period to Qing dynasty and the

Weiming Lake was surprisingly wonderful on that day. Though

essential parts of every type of calligraphy. Later, she made some

most of the students had no experiences in Chinese painting, all

remarks on our practicing works and wrote marginal note “Happy

showed their great talent in it, which attracted the eyes of the

Mothers Day” on one of the participant’s artwork, which was a big

tourists near the lake. Thanks to Mr. Wang’s patient mentoring,

“love” in Chinese calligraphy for Mother’s Day. In the end, Ms.

everyone was satisfied with the breath-taking scenery of the

Zhou made a performance of different types of calligraphy such as

Weiming Lake in the end.

regular script and running script. She gave all students the Chinese characters as gifts. This workshop will be continued in the future.

Yenching International Art Association of Peking University is a club affiliated to Yenching Academy. We are going to run Chinese

Our second activity was a live Chinese painting workshop,

painting and calligraphy workshops in a regular basis and will

which took place in Jingyuan and beautiful Weiming Lake. Mr.

conduct several live painting in the future. We will also organize

Wang Han was the teacher of this activity, a Ph.D. candidate

seminars led by invited professionals as well as our talented

from the Art Department of Peking University. Mr. Wang gave a

members, which can promote mutual understanding and fusion

lecture on the topic of comparison between Chinese and western

among various art types from different cultures. Furthermore, we

compositions of artworks and introduced several classical Chinese

will organize visits to art exhibitions or events and will be starting

composition types. He combined the lecture with live painting,

our own exhibitions later. We will provide a free and creative

which kept the students engaged. Later, Mr. Wang took all the

environment which is open to any possibility, to hasten the growth

students to the Weiming Lake to conduct a live painting. The

and fusion of art.

7 | Yenching Review


Introducing Armenia to PKU Primary School ––––––––– by Ani Grigoryan, Armenia –––––––––

food and drink, as well as play traditional games, listen to the music of the country, paint with traditional techniques, etc. Most

Peking University student Ani Grigoryan talks about the

importantly, the students are not merely listening to the teacher

experience of sharing the culture of her home country, Armenia, at

talk, but are fully engaged in the interactive dialogue, during which

the primary school of PKU.

they share their knowledge, guesses and ideas on a given topic.


The first lecture on Armenia was an overview of the

eing a part of PKU not only gives us the opportunity

country’s geography, ancient history and alphabet, followed by

to enjoy an elite education, but also gives us the sense

an introduction of our capital city Yerevan with its 2798 years of

of belonging to China. Dozens of nationalities and cultures are

history. The children already had some basic knowledge and were

represented at the university, each having its unique aspects. All of

enthusiastically participating in the lesson and also asking curios

us live and study in harmony, sharing our impressions on China.

questions. To consolidate all they learned the students made their

At the start of March I learned that the PKU primary school

own tour routes explaining the reasons behind their destinations

“Fuzhong” in cooperation with a company named “Tulipower” is

of choice. In the second session the pupils were introduced to

organizing a lecture series on cultures and languages of different

Armenian foods and drinks, enjoyed a cup or two of Armenian

countries ( 郁力国际环球文化课 ) and I was really impressed by

herbal tea, listened to some traditional music and staged a beautiful

that program. Introducing our diverse world to primary school

dance under the teacher’s guidance. One of the most exciting parts

children is an amazing opportunity for them to learn about various

of the sessions was the students drawing their impressions of the

cultures at such young age, when their world-view is just beginning

country and signing their names in Armenian, using the letters

to develop. As someone who has been involved in intercultural

which they previously learned.

events for the most part of her life I became very much interested

Overall, I would highly recommend all international students

in the program and contacted the organizers. During our meeting

to share their diverse cultural heritages with the young and talented

I was told that their office invites representatives of various cultural

PKU primary school students. Especially those who speak Chinese

heritages to give interactive lectures, presenting the most interesting

could value the experience of speaking about their own language

and unique aspects of their cultural and national background.

and culture in Chinese and hearing back students’ curious and

Lecture series on Armenia entitled “Ancient Armenia” ( 古老的亚

thoughtful questions and comments.

美尼亚 ) were scheduled by the “Tulipower” representative after a deep and thorough discussion of our history, traditions, language, ancient culture, arts, holidays and cuisine. On April and May 2016 I was honored to represent my country and culture in front of the many talented students of PKU primary school. They have developed a very unique program for children, according to which the lecturer introduces his/her nation by vivid examples and comparisons, which help the students digest the given information in their own unique way. The teachers bring different items from their countries, such as traditional clothing,

Art & Culture | 8

The Greedy Tounges ––––––––– by Ani Grigoryan, Armenia –––––––––


presented 12-15 languages/dialects, including ChiShona, Turkish, Hebrew, Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Latin American

he Yenching Academy language club “The Greedy

indigenous languages, Lithuanian, Armenian, Japanese and

Tongues” has been a successful initiative attracting both

Italian. The format we have been following is- a representative/

PKU students and staff to learn more about various languages and

representatives of a particular culture and language/dialect giving

cultures spoken all around campus. The idea of having such a club

a presentation about their mother language (including cultural

came to me on Feb 21, i.e. on the International Mother Language

aspects) during the first part of the session, whereas during the

Day, which is formally recognized by the UN General Assembly and

second part they teach something to the participants, for instance

is celebrated in many countries. The aim of this day is to promote

the writing system (letters or characters), some basic expressions,

peace and multilingualism and our club follows the same concept.

interesting sayings, unique constructions, different usages of words,

The first Yenching cohort was very diverse when it came to

riddles, tongue twisters and even pick-up lines. Initially there was

their cultural backgrounds and had people who speak not only

some uncertainty amongst the presenters who didn’t have any

unique mother tongues, but also various languages, hence the club

linguistic background. They were unsure if they can present their

attracted many presenters and numerous interested participants.

language. For this reason a support team has been created to offer

Receiving full support from the Academy we initially had the plan

any kind of help with the presentations. After consultations and

of dedicating 1-2 hours every second or third week to so called

initial preparations the speakers presented their tongues in the most

“language sharing”, however, due to the immense interest, we

accessible manner for the diverse audience. Learning a lot about

changed from a biweekly meeting to a weekly event. In total we

their own languages, our presenters also discovered how interesting

9 | Yenching Review


and unique their languages are for others. Our speakers included

“ The Greedy Tongues”, as the name clearly states

not only Yenching scholars but also students from other PKU

has pushed us with a greedy need to dig deeper into our

departments. For some students the fact that the sessions were

civilization’s languages, the way we communicate with each

held in English became a chance to develop their English listening

other and with others.

skills alongside with learning about other languages. Nicola Angeli, a fellow scholar and a co-organizer of the club, initiated a series

Luis Felipe Borja, Ecuador

of small independent groups in addition to the sessions, where

PKU Law School

intermediate/advanced speakers of a particular tongue can use and practice the language they are learning. By the end of 2016

As a well-known quote says: “Through learning language,

spring semester, the language club, being an absolute success, was

we learn about culture. Through learning about culture, we learn

suggested to become an official PKU club and it is currently in

respect for others. Through learning respect for others, we can hope

the middle of application process. Having even more represented

for peace”, We gather ourselves in a classroom, and try to set an

mother tongues and unique cultural heritages, this upcoming year

hour to summarize our thoughts, a moment to appreciate different

we are going to hold our sessions on a weekly basis introducing our

languages, recognize our roots and how they have played an

diversity to PKU and to the world. For me, as for a linguist, “The

important role in world history. We come together, learn from each

Greedy Tongues” was an incredible opportunity to learn about so

other and try to decipher the questions, riddles, tongue twisters

many languages and cultural heritages ‘first-hand’, an opportunity

and puzzles in front of us.

that was granted to us by the academy. This year we are planning

This is how we benefited from the Greedy Tongues. It was an

to not only promote multilingualism, but also, to celebrate the

opportunity to share our culture through language, and share our

major holidays of each represented heritage at Yenching, embracing

experience through the display of joy, fun and happiness. After all -

multiculturalism and diversity.

everyone smiles in the same language.

Art & Culture | 10

岁 年

Yenching Photo Contest Theme : AGE / 年岁

The Yenching Photo Contest is back by popular demand. Following the success of the first edition, this second edition catalysed the attention of many students gifted with photographic skills – or passion – or both.

However, this second edition witnessed an important change. The contest crossed the borders of the Yenching

Academy and welcomed submissions by all Peking University students, regardless of their level of studies or department affiliation.

Three prizes for one theme. 1000RMB, 500RMB and 250RMB for capturing on camera the ineffable presence of “AGE”, reflected in all its possible interpretations. Emphasising at this point how difficult it was to select only three photos among all the submissions might easily sound as a cliché. But as every cliché, it contains some truth. The selection process involved two steps. First, an online survey allowing the judges to rate all the anonymous entries. Second, a panel of judges discussed the top-rated photos, until the majority could agree on three of them. It was a long and uneven path, and the summer sun didn’t help either. Now, we are glad to present here the three entries that, due to their mix of symbolism, technical skills and creativity, were judged as the best ones.

11 | Yenching Yenching Review Review



A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National

Author: Huang Dawei

Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only

“The Gate to Performing Arts”

make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the


theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!

| 12 | 12 Art Arts && Culture Culture


A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National

Author: Huang Dawei

Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only

“The Gate to Performing Arts�

make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the


13 | Yenching Yenching Review Review

theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!

Arts & Culture | 13



A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National

Author: Huang Dawei

Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only

“The Gate to Performing Arts”

make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the


theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!

Arts Art & Culture | 14




South China Se

见 意

China-Africa Relations


Turkey Coup Attempt

15 | Yenching Review




Brexiting, Remaining or Cancelling the Vote A Wonderful Political and Democratic Experiment For those interested in political theory or international relations, Brexit was potentially the

by Jean-François Maurice, Canada PKU Law School

opportunity of a lifetime to observe the intricacies of democratic dynamics and political structures.


t is important to initially present a brief summary of the

and cause of the future ruin of the UK. Is it really? I, much like

issue and of how it culminated to be not only a political

these critics, am unable to predict the future and it is nonsensical to

event, but also an example of how fragile democratic values are

make any assessment based on what is unknown and fundamentally

and how nuanced is the realization of a democratic ideal. In the


‘70s and ‘80s, British “Eurosceptics” were most commonly found

But here are two certainties: for one, Brexit would be the

amongst the left, namely with the Labour Party who had certain

realization of a power that exists for all EU members under Article

reservations towards the economic liberalism brought about by

50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which was an amendment to the EU

the the European Common Market. The arguments from the left

constitutional structure. Therefore there is nothing extreme or

were not all that different from the ones heard during the Brexit

fundamentally against European values about exercising that right.

referendum from the Leave camp: loss of sovereignty and the

Organizations and alliances result from negotiation and must satisfy

impossibility to engage in nationalist measures, the main difference

the needs of their members. Where a federation such as the EU

being that the left was then hoping to preserve and encourage

is perceived as less beneficial than a different arrangement or total

socialist and protectionist policies.

independence, it makes logical sense for its member to renegotiate

With the transformation of the “European Community”

or exit. This brings us to the second point, which is that the UK,

into the European Union in 1993, Eurosceptics became more

through Brexit, would recuperate its full sovereignty in many

prevalent within the British right amongst the Conservative Party

domains and would be free to arrange services and bureaucracy in

and the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The latter has been

a way that would – potentially - better serve the interest of Britons.

advocating for Brexit since its inception, also in 1993. At first, the

Simply put, the UK is trading a set of tools for another, with the

idea was dismissed, often laughed at and denounced as far-right

hope that they will be better fitted for whatever objectives the UK

fearmongering, but the rise of UKIP in recent elections and the

has. In itself this is not disastrous at all and speaks nothing of what

accrued popularity of their cause amongst the Conservative Party’s

“objectives” exactly the UK will pursue. Said “objectives” will mainly

voting base has given legitimacy to Brexit and made it part of the

be determined through subsequent national elections. The Leave

mainstream political conversation. It all came to a – relative –

camp has been claiming that a renewed organization of the UK’s

conclusion this last June 23rd, as the “Leave” vote won the Brexit

sovereign power (exercising them directly rather than delegating to

referendum, with 52% of total votes.

the EU) will be better suited to fulfill the will and serve the needs of

Following the results, a myriad of critics and disappointed

the British people.

“Remain” voters went on to attack the Brexit referendum and the

Yet, the reaction to the Brexit referendum results is worrying.

decision recommended by the vote. Together with nearly every

What we have seen in the UK is a liberal left (traditionally pro-

single media outlet in the world they denounced it as a catastrophe

democracy, human rights and individual freedoms) and intellectual,

Opinions | 16

urban youth who have turned on the vote result and tried to

in a democracy, one man’s ignorance is equal to another man’s

delegitimize it by targeting specific groups and antagonizing them.

knowledge. But these patronizing and elitist attitudes serve to

Older voters were blamed; some even suggested that their votes

remind us why poorer, less educated or non-urban segments of the

should not have been counted since they will not have to “live with

population need an equal right to decide for themselves and thus

the consequence of the decision.” This is an extreme fallacy if there

escape the tyranny of a supercilious minority.

is one. Older voters benefit from experience and are better able to

Many critics claimed that some “Leave” voters had changed

put certain events in their limited context and then contrasting

their minds upon seeing the results and that it justified a re-vote.

them with more global, longer-term trends. A beautiful Greek

Would they argue for the same had they won? When a referendum

proverb says “a society grows great when old men plant trees, whose

is held, people are supposed to be informed or to have sought

shade they know they shall never sit in”. If the opinions of older

enough information to make an enlightened decision. It is their

voters are systematically dismissed as soon as they do not exactly

responsibility to vote with certainty and determination, without

conform to the ones of the younger generation or to the political

expecting a do-over. Otherwise, all votes would automatically have

doxa, we may never benefit from the sense of legacy that would

to be held multiple times. Furthermore, to ensure fairness and good

motivate our elders and from their resolve to leave the world better

faith, such rule as a “re-vote” possibility should be decided before

than when they came into it. Does experience necessarily translate

the vote is held rather than demanded afterwards.

into wisdom? No, but neither does youth or adherence to modern political trends. Citizens of rural areas were blamed. The less educated were blamed. Many seemed to forget that all citizens are meant to be equal. To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, this is not to say that

In this way, the Brexit referendum, as a case of political theory, illustrates the fragility of democratic values and of the structures we create to realize them. It showed us how discontented segments of the population may be quick to dismiss some of our core values. Besides, the legal ramifications of the vote further give rise to an array of unresolved questions. The most important issue stems from the fact that the referendum was merely consultative and not binding, which means that the UK parliament, in theory, could disregard its result and vote against any legislation that would trigger Article 50 or initiate the process to do so. A parliamentary majority of 326 members could effectively block a motion decided by over 16 million voters. How legitimate would it be? Representatives in Parliament could technically be justified in doing so based on the Brexit referendum results in their local ridings. This has the potential to be in conflict with the overall national result, with party lines or even with results of the previous general election. As mentioned earlier, there is no way to predict the long-term consequences of the Brexit vote. There is also no way to predict the result of the UK-EU negotiations, if Article 50 is indeed triggered. One certainty though is that nothing can be taken for granted and that vigilance and wisdom are still needed to

by Zhang Zhunlan

17 | Yenching Review

preserve our democratic institutions and protect the values we hold as fundamental to our societies.


Being LGBTQ in Contemporary China From Straight-Gay Marriages to the Rise Of Xinghun

by Magdalena Gonzalez, Chile Yenching Academy


eing part of the LGBTQ community in most parts of the world is a struggle. China is no different. Homosexuality was decriminalized in China only in 1997 and declassified as a mental illness in 2001. Today being LGBTQ is still not viewed

as a person’s inherent identity, but rather as a negative lifestyle or as a socially unacceptable sexual hobby. Simultaneously, the Chinese Communist Party has often played a contradictory role towards this community using a “not encouraging, not discouraging, not promoting” ( 不 支 持 , 不 反 对 , 不 提 倡 ) approach, thereby revealing that structural and political constraints remain present. A comprehensive report launched on May 17th, 2016 by the United Nations Development Program in Beijing found that only 5% LGBTQ are willing to speak their diversity openly. The situation becomes even more difficult in a society that puts high pressure on young Chinese to get married and have children.

The Tonqi & Tongfu Phenomenon


of this phenomenon. Straight-gay marriages reveal the huge amount of pressure homosexuals face in China, as they feel forced

ccording to Zhang Beichuan, renowned scholar on

to engage in such marriages. The reasons? Primarily to hide their

LGBTQ issues in China, there are about 20 million gay

homosexuality, have children, honor the parents and thus conform

men in China, 80% of them married to heterosexual women. In

to the traditional ways of Chinese society.

other words, 16 millions gay men have married straight women. This phenomenon has recently been discussed in a China Daily article (“Wives in sham marriages hidden in the shadows”, April 22nd, 2016), highlighting the case of these women, also known as tonqi – a combination of tongzhi (“comrade”) and qizi (“wife”). The cases of heterosexual men married to lesbians – the tongfu have been less researched but are also certainly existent.

A Problem Leading Another: The Emerging Alternative Trend Of Xinghun


n the other hand the decline of straight-gay marriages comes with the rise of what seems to become an

emerging alternative trend: the union between lesbians and gay

Straight-gay marriage has recently been receiving more public

men, or xinghun as called in Chinese. Also known as ‘cooperative

attention, especially through social media, where the LGBTQ

marriage’ or ‘contract marriage’, xinghun is considered by a large

community launched a campaign to denounce these arrangements

proportion of the Chinese LGBT community as a more honest and

and discourage other homosexuals to follow the same path. Many

transparent option in which both partners are fully aware of each

selfies were posted with the hashtag #ImGayAndWontMarryASt

other’s sexual preferences and consensually agree on the terms of

raightPerson. Some parents showed their support and joined the

their marriage. Social media, such as specialized apps and websites,

discussion too. Tonqi and tongfu are indeed not the only victims

have undoubtedly played an important role in the marketing of

Opinions | 18

by Zhang Zhunlan

this practice. boasts of having achieved about 50,000 successful matches. Liao Zhuoying, the founder of a similar

patriarchal institutions and values. Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate the

app called Queers, sees his product as a solution-provider service

barriers of inequality and discrimination

allowing a win-win situation for gay and lesbians that would not

that LGBTQ people face in their daily life. In the short-term,

come out to their families. Just like straight-gay marriages, the

education and evidence-based information seems to be the most

fundamental goal is to alleviate the pressure from the parents

realistic approach to improve social attitudes towards sexual

who await to see their children marry. In 2013, He Xiaopei a

orientation and gender identity. This is all the more possible in

renowned minority rights advocate, released the documentary “Our

a country rapidly changing towards a more progressive society.

Marriages: When Lesbians Marry Gay Men� portraying the lives

In this context, the LGBTQ community has a challenging

of four lesbians from Shenyang who decided to marry gay men

opportunity to actively engage in a coordinated effort with the

in order to silence the overwhelming family pressures. One of the

civil society, academia and policymakers to guide these changes

women asserted that even if China legalized equal marriage, she

into a more inclusive society. Such changes could, for instance,

would still have opted for cooperative marriage in order to protect

lead to the improvement of the legal framework that currently

her family from social shaming.

does not provide basic rights to LGBTQ people. Does China have


a long way to go towards these goals? Arguably, yes! It is left to otwithstanding the possible benefits of xinghun,

desire that absolutely equality to all members of society, including

they still are detrimental to a more tolerant society,

members of the LGBTQ community, will be among the priorities

because it supports status quo and reinforce heteronormative

19 | Yenching Review

of China’s future development.


Professor Lin Yifu and the Development of


Chinese Economics By Jackson Tse, USA Yenching Academy

o the casual Western observer of China, the name Justin Lin Yifu may not immediately ring a bell. Indeed, a

layperson’s understanding of development economics is colored with names like Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier, scholars who

1. China benefited from a latecomer advantage

articulated the need for the increased development aid packages

According to Lin, China was able to sustain dynamic

and market liberalization and reform. But Lin has arguably made

economic growth because of its latecomer advantage – what

an equally significant impact in the field, first by pioneering the

he called the “advantage of backwardness.” Increases in labor

field of New Structural Economics, then by serving as the first

productivity, in Lin’s understanding, are derived from technological

Chief Economist of the World Bank from a developing country.

innovation or industrial upgrade. Because high-income countries

During his tenure four-year tenure between 2008 and 2012, he is

operate at the frontiers, innovation comes about by inventing

credited with pushing the Bank towards emphasizing infrastructure

indigenously. The success rate of such innovation, however, is quite

development as a crucial component of development.

low. Low-income, developing countries, conversely, benefit from a lower cost of innovation/upgrade from “imitation, importation,

An economist by training, Lin was born in Yilan County,

and licensing.” Because they do not need to invent indigenously,

Taiwan. He served in the ROC military and was hailed as a model

they are able to grow much faster. China thus benefited from this

soldier. On May 17, 1979, he defected from the Taiwanese side,

latecomer advantage. But given that the technological disparity

making the arduous swim across the strait to the nearby island of

already existed for a significant period of time, why did it not grow

Xiamen. In a letter to his family written a year later, he underscored


that “based on my cultural, historical, political, economic and military understanding, it is my belief that returning to the motherland is a historical inevitability; it is also the optimal choice.”

2. China gave up the advantage of backwardness

In the Mainland, Lin studied economics in Peking University, and

Lin asserted that growth did not occur during the pre-reform

later completed his PhD at the University of Chicago. He founded

era because Chinese policymakers gave up their “advantage of

the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University, and

backwardness.” In 1949, China had a massive labor force but was

currently serves as Professor and Honorary Dean of the National

capital-scarce. As such, its competitive advantage was in labor-

School of Development.

intensive industries. The growth strategy in 1949, however, was to develop large-scale, capital-intensive industries. These sorts of

On a sunny afternoon at Peking University, I had the

technologies could not simply be imported over, and thus China

opportunity of hearing Professor Lin lecture on Chinese economic

had to invent them. Moreover, Chinese firms were uncompetitive,

development. Titled “Demystifying the Chinese Economy,” his talk

and had to be supported by state subsidies, leading to a massive

addressed the historical, present, and future drivers and costs of

misallocation of resources. Both these factors contributed to slower

Chinese growth. There were five crucial takeaways.

growth for the Chinese economy during the pre-reform era.

Opinions | 20

3. The Chinese transition strategy was appropriate

costs, Lin asserted that they have to be differentiated and segmented into two component parts, costs associated with the

Excluding China, Lin argues that the transition strategy for

stage of economic development and costs associated with the

socialist countries was flawed. As a panacea for economic ills,

growth strategy. For example, Lin categorized pollution and

most of these countries adopted market-based reforms through

environmental degradation as a cost associated with China’s

“shock therapy.” Reforms were implemented in a dramatic,

economic stage, particularly considering China’s size and its

immediate fashion, and were aimed at rapidly transforming a

reliance on manufacturing as the main production activity. To

planned economy into a market economy. These included the

solve this externality, Lin asserts that China should grow faster

release of price and currency controls, the massive retrenchment

and adopt green technology.

in state subsidies, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the sudden introduction of trade liberalization policies. In Lin’s

Conversely, Lin defined income disparity and corruption as

understanding, these interventions were endogenous to large-scale

costs associated with China’s growth strategy. Income disparity

state owned enterprises. “Because firms were not economically

occurs due to the dual-track strategy; the Chinese poor end up

viable,” he explained the audience, “there would be severe

subsidizing the production activities of state-owned companies.

unemployment and economic/political collapse.” Moreover, the

Corruption is a byproduct of state control, monopoly rent, and the

introduced backdoor protectionist subsidies would usually be less

purchasing of contracts and licenses – a system created to protect

efficient than the protectionist subsidies in the past.

large-scale industries.

China, on the other hand, adopted a more appropriate transition strategy. This strategy, according to Lin, consisted of two

5. China will achieve its targeted 6.5% growth rate

dimensions. First, Beijing facilitated liberalization through Special

Based on his calculations, Lin argued that China has 20 more

Economic Zones (SEZs), which served as laboratories and testing

years of 8% growth. The downward trend in recent years, in his

grounds for gradual market-based reforms. Dynamic growth in

eyes, is a combination of two factors – the sluggish recovery of

these SEZs would create opportunities for reform in old sectors

high-income countries, and slowing investment associated with the

– they would do this by making old sectors consistent with their

transition from an investment-export based model. Lin believes

overall competitive advantage. Second, Beijing protected old

that the mitigation of these factors, coupled with increases in

sectors, preventing large-scale unemployment.

Chinese consumption, will drive greater growth in the near future.

4. Differentiating between “Stage” costs and “Strategy” costs is critical

Professor Lin concluded by encouraging us to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of China. To understand China in all its complexity, we need to move beyond the mainstream model of economics. By doing so, we will be able to not only learn from

This was not to say that Chinese economic growth has come without social and environmental costs. To address these

21 | Yenching Review

China and derive lessons from the Chinese experience, but also apply them to developing countries across the world.

China-Africa Journalism Forum How China and Africa See Each Other

by Sihle Nontshokweni, South Africa Yenching Academy

“It is an exciting time to discuss China-Africa relations.” –– Zhenxing (Bruce) Chen, a Yenching Scholar, said as he began his opening speech at the China-Africa Journalism Forum held on May 14th, 2016.




he forum brought together journalists from Africa

“If the story does not serve Chinese interest, the story does

and China, Chinese professors, the former Chinese

not get told,” an attendant of the forum said during the Q&A

ambassador to Eritrea and Rwanda, as well as representatives

session. In line with this sentiment, the former Chinese ambassador

from Chinese enterprises in Africa to share their experiences and

to Eritrea and Rwanda, Mr. Shu Zhan highlighted that Chinese

opinions about “How China and Africa See Each Other.” This

media should not only cover the Sino-Africa relationship but

thought-provoking event was organized by the Yenching Academy

further report African countries independently and objectively.

of Peking University and International Sino-Africa Watch (ISAW), co-organized by the Center for African Studies of Peking University and supported by the Peking University African Students Association (PUASA).

The first speaker of the Forum, Lianxing Li (Secretary General

of China-Africa communications program of Tsinghua University, CCTV) emphasized how important it is for Africans to actively seek knowledge about China, principally because of China’s

The conversation kick-started with a video documented by the School of

expanding economic ties in the African continent.

He continued that without Africans telling their own

Journalism and Communications of Tsinghua

story about the China-Africa relationship, China would

University. In the video, Beijing-based respondents are first

maintain virtual dominance on the reporting on Africa

tested about Africa’s regional facts, followed by questions

for the Chinese audience.

on their perceptions of the continent and its people. The low level of knowledge demonstrated by the respondents highlighted a low level of coverage of Africa in Chinese media.

Financial deprivation associated with media

operations in Africa was identified as a key challenge that has

led to slow progress in increasing media coverage of Africa in To deconstruct the existing representations of the stereotypical

China. Despite the said difficulties, Lovering Sichizya (A journalist

“lazy” Africa and a “China that is a new colonizer, supporting

working with the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS)

‘rogue’ African states”, Liu Haifang (Associate Professor at School

called for more African journalists “to rise above their challenges

of International Studies, Peking University; Deputy Director &

by engaging more interactively seizing all available opportunities to

Secretary General, the Centre for African Studies, Peking University)

report more on African issues for different media in China so as to

engaged the audience to think about ways to deconstruct the

move forward the African agenda instead of waiting for sponsored

hegemonic images that make up the Africa-China relationship.

programs or reporting projects…”

Opinions | 22

At a micro level, Zizhu Zhang (Freelancer and Special Correspondent based in Africa) brought up some of the challenges faced by Chinese reporters. Poor infrastructure, low internet access and lack of logistical support inhibit journalist’s effectiveness in coordinating and reporting on the ground. This latency is compounded by budget constraints. Consequently, it has become common for private reporters to rely on established sites such as CCTV, Al Jazeera and BBC. This dependency skews reporting and allows established media sites to dominate Sino-Africa news. It is clear that without increased funding, private media will continue to face challenges in covering China-Africa news. Lovering Sichizya emphasized the dire need for more positive stories to improve public perception on the continent and called for more stories highlighting peace in Africa instead of ubiquitous turmoil. Simon Matingwina (a Ph.D. candidate from Zimbabwe at the Communication University of China) agreed and echoed the desire for China-Africa reporting to move towards Constructive Journalism, journalism that empowers audiences by offering holistic coverage, with a focus on solutions. Looking to the future of China-Africa reporting exchanges, Yanqiu Zhan (Professor of Communication, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Communication, the Communication University of China (CUC)) advised African media practitioners reporting in China to incorporate an engaging and open mindset when working with the local media industry in China The final speaker, Shengkang Cao (A blind world traveler) shared his personal traveling experiences in the African continent. The final closing speaker, John Holden (Associate Dean of Yenching Academy), affirmed the value of the China-Africa Journalism Forum and suggested that a follow up forum ought to be led by scholars at the Yenching Academy.  This will serve to promote active discussions on ways to enhance positive images of China-Africa relations.

23 | Yenching Review


Revisiting the Issues of the


South China Sea by Alex Palmer, USA Yenching Academy

uring the semester the Yenching Academy welcomed Captain Tian for a talk on the applications of

international law to the South China Sea. Educated in law in both

Capt. Tian spoke extensively and deeply about other areas of

China and the United Kingdom and now serving as a Section

law both large and minute, punctuating his remarks with quotes

Chief for emergency management and media relations at the

and examples that portrayed other countries, particularly the

Chinese Ministry of Defense, Capt. Tian was ideally equipped for

United States, as unduly stubborn or hypocritical, like a 1910

a provocative discussion on a topic that has provoked controversy

quote from U.S. Secretary of State Elihu Root criticizing Russia

and friction for years among legal scholars, security analysts,

for activities that the United States has now seemed to embrace

political scientists, and government leaders.

itself. The quotation was representative of Capt. Tian’s approach in general: within a historical framework emphasizing the need

Capt. Tian began by emphasizing that he was speaking in

to balance sovereignty and freedom within an elaborate and ever-

a personal capacity, and that he did not intend to hold back his

changing legal framework, he took pains to point out instances in

opinions. “I’m not speaking here to please you,” he said. “I’m here

which China has adhered to or benefited from international law,

to hear from you, and to exchange ideas with you.” Though Capt.

and particularly cases where other countries have seemed to bend

Tian’s presentation was framed within the context of centuries of

the rules of similar laws.

legal history, the focus of his talk was clear: in his first slides, he emphasized that the Freedom of Navigation program started by

The implications for the South China Sea, Capt. Tian said,

the United States in 1979 to maintain free and open international

are clear: the area was “free, open and stable with no problem of

waterways was “not just an issue for China,” but rather, he said, for

the freedom of navigation before US ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy.” The

all of East Asia. Capt. Tian then launched into a detailed history

Chinese garrisons in the area have a long history, he continued,

of the Law of the Sea and navigational rules from 1494 to the

but other countries in the region who act in a similar fashion

present day, headed by a quote from the French philosopher Baron

are “illegally occupying Chinese islands.” Furthermore, China’s

de Montesquieu: “Liberty is a right of doing whatever the law

controversial program of construction in the South China Sea does


not affect freedom of navigation, he argued – the program is only a “reactive measure” to the U.S. pivot.

Using an animated illustration of the legal division of maritime zones and entitlements, Capt. Tian discussed the areas of

Before the pivot, Capt. Tian continued, there were no

agreement and disagreement between China and the United States

complaints about adherence to international law in the South

in interpreting international law. The United States, for instance,

China Sea. He characterized “the change of US operational patterns

says that warships should be allowed distress and assistance entry

and attitude” as “provocative, hostile and aggressive” “incursions.”

into coastal waters that are otherwise off limits to such ships; China

“All ships,” Capt. Tian said, “including Americans, are welcome in

rejects this claim, and more generally the idea of innocent passage

these waters,” but as it stands the “US undermines legal regional

by warships in areas bordering its territorial waters.

order, peace and security.” This was the clear reality of the situation,

Opinions | 24

Capt. Tian concluded, adding, “We lawyers only speak facts and

the Sea – we apply the Convention every day.” Finally, when a


student mentioned that China seemed to be acting unilaterally in drawing boundaries and building structures in the South China

During the question and answer period, the first student

Sea, Capt. Tian cited the U.S. invasion of Iraq to show that if

questioner pressed Capt. Tian on China’s militarization of the

China were acting unilaterally, it was nonetheless less egregious

South China Sea and its controversial and ill-defined “nine-dash

than the actions of other countries.

line” overlapping with the claims of other Southeast Asian nations. In response, Capt. Tian argued, “China has never clarified its legal

For the students present, Capt. Tian’s presentation did not

boundary because China can’t survey these islands because they are

disappoint – it was provocative, shedding light on an important and

illegally occupied by other nations like Vietnam.”

controversial perspective rarely heard in legal or diplomatic circles outside of China. In this way, the talk was a fitting microcosm of

Another student noted that while Capt. Tian cited the

Yenching Academy’s larger mission: to bring together Chinese leaders

International Court of Justice in his talk, the country has rejected

and scholars with students from around the world, creating the

arbitration by the Court in a maritime dispute with the Philippines.

space for discussions and exchanges that are rare but increasingly

Capt. Tian disputed the question, answering that “not accepting

important for understanding the state and direction of world affairs.

arbitration is itself a legal choice,” and that few states accept

Capt. Tian’s talk on the South China Sea was just one example

such rulings from the Court. More important, he said, were the

from a year of similar moments, but it is certain to reshape how the

thousands of small daily actions in the South China Sea. “Settlement

Scholars present view the conflict and the evolution of Chinese and

of dispute is only one part of the UN Convention on the Law of

international diplomacy on flashpoints around the world.

25 | Yenching Review

Questioning settled dogmas

urkey Coup


What really happened in Turkey on 15th of June?


oup attempt that took place in Turkey has been suppressed. According to the first reports, hundreds of

people including soldiers, civilians and policemen were left dead in clashes and thousands are currently under arrest. To no surprise, this unexpected event took over headlines all over the world. People are naturally wondering what is going on in Turkey, which used to be known as one of the most stable countries in the West Asia. However, most foreign media organizations are far from analyzing the blurred sitution properly. Most authors just repeat some old fashioned clichés, among some of the most common ones are: “secular army vs. Islamist government.” Since Turkish President Erdoğan is as a devoted Islamist, some people interpreted the coup as a ‘secular’ resistance to his rule. This claim is at the same time quite contradictory. Turkish army is not ipso facto secular and it is not an homogenous actor today. On the contrary, many cliques exist within the army itself. In the early 2000s, most secular high-ranking military officials in Turkey rapidly radicalized once they realized that the priorities of the US and Turkey in West Asia were different. Some secular/Kemalist1 officials even organized public conferences and suggested quitting NATO and establishing closer ties with China, Russia and Iran. All these ‘radical’ people were liquidated with utterly nonsense plots, such as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz) organized by an Islamist-cum-pro-West coalition in 2007 among the US’ and EU’s screams of joy. So-called “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer” trials 1 Kemalism: Jacobin-like modernist principles set forth by the leader of Turkish War of Independence and Republican Revolution of 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, based on fundamental pillars symbolized by “Six Arrows”, namely, secularism/laicism, étatism (state intervention in economy), populism (popular sovereignty), revolutionism, nationalism (non-expansionist, non-xenophobic anti-imperialism), republicanism.

Onurcan Ülker, Turkey Yenching Academy

based on trumpery and mostly fabricated “evidences,” through

which systematic violation of human rights was normalized, senior ranks in the army were reshuffled, and the real counter-

guerrilla/“deep state” -strictly linked to various political Islamist movements as well- was wightwashed with sleight of hand in Turkey, were hailed by European Commission as “an opportunity

for Turkey to strenghten confidence in the proper functioning of its democratic institutions and the rule of law” (EC, Turkey 2010

Progress Report), and as the Wikileaks documents revealed, there

was a close contact between US Embassy in Turkey and Turkish law

enforcement authorities actively taking part in operations to purge seculars/Kemalists especially in the beginning stages.

At that time, the Gulenist religious cult played a siginificant

role in the campaign against secular/Kemalist military officials and helped Erdoğan government to consolidate power. Leader of the Gulenist cult, Fethullah Gulen, is a former cleric who has

been living in the US for 17 years. The cult had excessive financial

resources and many well-educated members who occupied critical positions in hierarchy. With the help of these people, Erdoğan was able to deal with his secular opponents in the military. Thousands of active and retired military officials were arrested by Gulenist

judges, active ones were dismissed from their posts and replaced

by Gulenist personnel. However, ‘the love story’ of Erdoğan and

the Gulenist cult dramatically ended by late 2013, after the Gezi Park uprising, which gathered together approximately 13 million people who clashed with the police on the streets for almost three

months, and shook the governing coalition to its foundation. Former partners started to accuse each other due to instability.

Opinions | 26

Once Gulenist policemen exposed telephone tapes of Erdoğan and

posing a problem for the US government. As of last year, some

revealed a corruption scandal, an open war between the two sides

other problems were added to this picture. After a long time, in

began. The Army, police and jurisdiction were no longer under the

2015, the Turkish army started a comprehensive military campaign

control of seculars andthis time Erdoğan’s new Islamist enemies,

against PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a Kurdish nationalist

Gulenists, were quite influential over them. Since then Erdoğan

armed group. However, the Syrian branch of this separatist

has been trying to detach the Gulenists away from the army and

organization is the closest ally of the US against both ISIS and

buraucracy. Many of his former Gulenist allies have been arrested

Assad government in Syria; as of last year, Obama, as cited by a

and some of them fled to the US. To cut a long story short, the

number of media outlets such as Al Jazeera, CNN, Washington

recent coup attempt was mainly organized not by secular military

Post to name some, called Kurdish nationalist militants “allies

officials, but rather remnants of the Gulenist cult in the army.

of the US on the ground”. Therefore, US mass media has been criticizing Erdoğan harshly due to military operations against this

The Gulenist cult is known as one of the closest allies of the

group too. Moreover, shortly before the coup attempt, Erdoğan also

US in Turkey. The US authorities have been turning a deaf ear to

apoligized to Putin for the first time after the Turkish army downed

the Turkish government’s demands to extradite Fethullah Gulen.

a Russian jet at the Syrian border and negotiations between two

Therefore, Erdoğan’s hostility towards the Gulenists has been

countries started again. Erdoğan’s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım,

27 | Yenching Review

意见 implicitly touched upon a possible normalization with the Assad

Today, Erdoğan tries to turn this crisis into an opportunity

government in Syria and reestablishment of diplomatic relations

by establishing a unique ‘Presidential system’, in which he will be

concurrently. Of course, this U-turn was not welcomed by the US.

the indisputable authority. At this stage, nobody knows whether

Due to these tensions, when the coup attempt came to the fore,

numerically few but very determined radical elements from among

US Secretary of State John Kerry did not condemn self-proclaimed

the anti-coup protesters, who tried to lynch some surrendered

junta; rather, he chose to wish stability and peace for Turkey

soldiers, whipped them in the public and vandalized streets will

rigorously. Influential retired US lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters

be used to achive this goal through suppression of the opposition

explicitly hailed the coup as “the last chance for Turkey to avoid

in the future. While there’s no wonder that the precise defeat

an authoritarian regime.” In a similar vein, Lawrence Wilkerson,

of the coup is for the benefit of the vast majority of the society,

former chief-of-staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, also

still, Turkey’s future is full of uncertainty. Will Russia, China and

argued that CIA Director John Brennan “undoubtedly played some

Iran, who were stabbed from the back several times by Erdoğan

role” in the coup attempt. Not surprisingly, coupists declared their

in regard to Libya, Syria and Xinjiang Uyghur conflicts, accept

loyalty to NATO in their first statement as well.

this untrustable government as a partner in case of a paradigmatic geostrategic shift? Or will the US and the Western camp be

Of course, Erdoğan and his Islamist gang are not consistent

persuaded that Erdoğan understood who is the “boss”, especially

‘anti-imperialists.’ Due to massive privatization under their rule,

after his recent statement that “everyting goes on in accordance

today, Western monopoly capital controls almost all sectors of

with the principles of free market and will continue so,” and give

the Turkish economy. Neoliberal transformation in agriculture,

him another chance by following Friedrich Hayek’s argument that “a

which the Erdoğan regime led throuhout the 2000s, demolished

liberal dictator” is more preferable than a “democratic government

the agriculture sector which used to provide employment to

lacking liberalism”? At this stage, only one can be said in certain:

millions and was quite profitable in Turkey. Today the Turkish

it is quite difficult to make predictions in stormy times.

economy depends on hot money flows from the West. Due to this, Erdoğan could easily start to act more compatibly with the

This article was submitted shortly after failed coup attempt took place in Turkey

US/NATO agenda, again making another U-turn. A hint of such action is th reopening the airspace of İncirlik, the most important US military base in Turkey, after it was temporarily shut down by the government as a reaction to US right after the defeat of the coup attempt. However, it still remains questionable whether the US will be easily convinced by such small compromises. Pragmatic craftiness of Erdoğan and the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) might trick some domestic political actors easily, but not the US. John Kerry’s statement came even after Turkey reopened İncirlik airspace, in which he explicitly argued that Turkey might be removed from NATO, clearly showing that the US wants Erdoğan to surrender completely, but even surrender might not rescue the no longer credible Erdoğan.

Opinions | 28

术 学


An Examination of the Themes Shared by H. P. Lovecraft and Lu Xun.

Honey Watson, UK, Yenching Academy


u Xun and H. P. Lovecraft, born in the summers of 1881

displayed self-consciousness as authors in responding to criticisms

and 1890 respectively, wrote posthumously celebrated

within the framework of a story or essay. Beyond these stylistic

short works of fiction during the same unstable period in global

similarities, there seems at first glance to be little more to say. If we

history. One American and one Chinese, these authors would come

were to imagine each author on a sliding scale of what constitutes

to represent the literature of their home nations in not entirely

‘fiction’, the Gothic, demonic horrors of Lovecraft would be as

unproblematic senses. Lovecraft’s image, despite the deep racism

far away from the modernist super-realities of Lu Xun as possible.

ingrained into the author’s work, is idolised in statuette as the

However, in a spherical world it is possible to grow so far apart that

World Fantasy Award, a signpost of the US’s remarkable ability

we meet at the other side.


to forgive its historical figures of great intellectual discrepancies.

As I hope to show, the two authors shared not only stylistic

Meanwhile, Lu Xun, while more of a household name than

similarities, but also deep recurring themes. Both men are obsessed

Lovecraft, gained his fame from his support of the May 4th

with memory, science, myth, fear and madness. The difference

movement, and the thorough criticism of Chinese traditional

in the outcomes of each of their considerations of these topics is


values and culture which that involved.

invaluably illuminating with regards to the intellectual attitudes

An explanation, even perhaps a justification, is warranted for

of their respective societies towards modernity or progress. This

my choice to juxtapose such different authors. Both were writers

is especially poignant when one also considers the similarity of

of short fiction who regularly utilised first-person narrators and

each of their lives. Besides their shared methods and themes, both were born into families at the time of its loss of prominence, both

1 Criticism of the award by China Mieville can be found at http:// 2  Qian Liqun (Literature Department, Peking University), HOW TO TREAT THE TRADITION FROM CONFUCIUS TO LU XUN, Reading Li Ling’s Stray Dog: My Reading of the Analects, 15 July 2007

29 | Yenching Review

trained in science before moving to literature, both challenged literary conventions and both were, ultimately, miserable. Writing from either side of a gulf of cultural understanding, and with no awareness of each other, both of these authors’ works


of fiction can nevertheless be used to throw light, and sometimes in

apocalyptic sea giants, malevolent gods of chaos and insidious time

doing so darken shadows, on the other.

demons are bent into almost unrecognisable caricatures of reality. Due to this bizarre, grotesque element his writing has slid largely

Memory and Fear


under the radar of serious academic literary criticism. Unlike contemporaneous Gothic authors, Lovecraft made very little effort

t is taken for granted by commentators on the subject that

to ease his readership into unreality besides the use of diary-formats

trends in ‘horror’ movies can be used to explore cultural

and first person, self-loathing narrators who acknowledge the

anxieties - for example the irradiated monsters that appeared on screens during the Cold War, or the rise of ‘zombies’ linked to 3

unlikelihood of their experiences. Lu Xun exists at the opposite end of the spectrum. Indeed,

anonymous consumerism in the 2000s. The same can be said of

it would be problematic of me to describe his fiction as ‘Gothic’ at

Western Gothic fiction. The pervading themes of subversion and

all, risking the appropriation of a Chinese author into a Western

scientific inquiry (or the subversion of scientific inquiry) found

genre. However, in this section I will be discussing the resemblance

in popular titles such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The

in the ways in which the two men invoked horror in their

Haunting of Hill House reflected fears about the dramatically

audiences, commenting on the similarities and stylistic differences

changing ethical mentality of society at the turn of the 20th

in their techniques which provide valuable insight into the differing


cultural and individual mentalities of these writers.

Lovecraft’s fame, and indeed his obscurity, comes from his stretching of this socially reflective genre to its absolute limit. His

––––––––– The primary ingredient in Lovecraft’s concoction of fear is memory.4 Almost all of his short stories contain one or more

3 A brief discussion of trends in horror by Noel Murray can be found at

4 H. P. Lovecraft, Necronomicon;, the best weird tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Edited and with an Afterword

Academics | 30

references to the primary character’s power of recollection, not for

suicide by painting the memory which causes him so much pain

fear of the content of the memory but of the power to remember

he cannot live; ‘I must have forgetfulness or death’. The character’s

itself. To take some examples from four separate stories of the

story is a maddening experience following his escape from a

Necronomicon; ‘I must have forgetfulness or death’; ‘my memory is

German sea-raider vessel - in his solitude, he enters a state of real

broken… I was deeply disturbed’; ‘I developed amnesia… the loss

un-reality in which he encounters vast stretches of impossible,

of five years… astonished and disturbed me’ and; ‘my memory is

desolate landscape stalked by hellish amphibian creatures, and their

curious and indistinct...’.5 In each of these stories, the protagonist

‘imaginary Gods’.7

is plagued by a memory which they are desperate to erase, or in the penultimate case to recall – but with devastating effects.

This is clearly an extreme form of escapism. ‘Extreme’ both in the sense that the content is extremely divorced from reality, and

The concept of unforgettable, disturbing or disturbed memory

that the subject of the narrative is a desire for an escape from the

is also found in abundance in Lu Xun’s work. To take four examples

escapist content. To put it simply, the memory to be forgotten is

from Diary of a Madman and Other Stories; ‘the trouble is that I

obviously fantasy. However, its fantastical nature does not mitigate

have not been able to forget’; ‘I cannot forget even today’; ‘this was

its metaphorical value. Lovecraft’s protagonist, as modern he is

not the countryside I had recalled’; ‘do you blame me for being so

as a battleship soldier, is terrorized and followed by members of


different to the old Lu Weifu who lives in your memory’. Lu Xun’s

‘some tribe whose last descendent had perished eras before the first

protagonists too are each unsettled by their memories, the content

ancestor of the Piltdown or the Neanderthal man was born’.8 This is

of which either disturbing reality through strangeness or suffering.

clearly playing on the anxieties of a culture whose increasing global

Both authors thus build a disturbing sense of being haunted

dominance is bringing it into contact with incomprehensible,

or trapped by the contents of their characters’ own minds; a sinister

apparently primordial and violently un-modern societies which

subtext tying together the ‘physical’ topic of the individual story –

could not be controlled – a feeling most clearly illustrated in

be it an encounter with an old friend, or a visit to an underwater

contemporaneous travel journals from Sierra Leone or Brazil.9 The

civilisation commanded by gigantic immortal aquatic devils.

protagonist’s experience of the world is thus so far divorced from

However, as that contrast suggests, the natures of the memories

the reality of the modern West’s understanding of space that he

which form the ominous white noise lying behind each author’s

turns to morphine, and ultimately suicide.10

text are entirely different.

In Mourning the Dead, Lu Xun’s narrator also escapes fantasy

In order to conduct a deeper analysis of the difference in

with death. The death in this case is not his own, but that of his

each author’s conduct of the theme of ‘memory’, I have selected

lover, Zijun. Zijun, although a rational, corporeal thing, serves

one story from each which I have found to be most representative.

a similar function to that of Lovecraft’s amphibian demons. In

From Lu Xun, Mourning the Dead, and from Lovecraft, Dagon.

fact, it is her very rationality that allows them to play the same

The format of these two stories is the same; the scribbled diary

role. Juansheng too is haunted by a fantasy, but his is a fantasy of

of a man in a fraught emotional state, which begins and ends with

modernity as opposed to his Lovecraftian counterpart’s extreme

death. In Dagon, the protagonist’s purpose is to justify his narcotic 5 Lovecraft; Dagon, 5; The Music of Erich Zann, 58; The Shadow out of Time, 561; The Statement of Randolph Carter, 10. 6 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, Translated by William A. Lyell, University of Hawaii Press 1990; Preface, 21; An Unimportant Affair, 67; Hometown, 89; Upstairs in a Wineshop, 248.

31 | Yenching Review

7 Lovecraft, Dagon in Necronomicon, p6. 8 = 9 Rankin F. Harrison, The white man’s grave; a visit to Sierra Leone in 1834 available online courtesy of Oxford University 10 Or murder, if one is inclined to take Lovecraft literally.


Lu Xun (1881-1936)

Lovecraft (1890-1937)

Academics | 32

primordialism. If we treat Ziijun in the same metaphorical way

for the inhabitants of their newly violent world to perform an

as we treat Dagon’s race, we can view Lu Xun’s story as a tale not

act of cultural violence in severing from classical modes of social

of lovers or death but of hyper-realism, anti-escapism perhaps


describable only in oxymoronic terms such as a ‘realist fantasy’.

Even more surprisingly, it is fair to say that Lu Xun employs

With Zijun’s death, the lid is closed on the couple’s

the same technique in doing so. Juansheng, like the desolate sailor,

unconventional relationship. Living together unmarried, and

ironically references Western authors in both his appropriation of

spouting feminist ideas stolen from the mouths of Western authors,

feminist ideas, and the dismissal of his lover. Shelley’s image clipped

the pair are doomed by traditionalist China’s refusal to embrace the

from a magazine is as inane and out of place on Juansheng’s wall

modernity it encounters as it reaches across the globe. The same

as the sailor’s reference to Poe in the presence of a lost God. While

socio-cultural anxieties as espoused in Dagon are thus represented

Lovecraft demonstrates the inability of the Western mind to bear

here, but from the other side of the looking-glass.

seemingly irrational or ‘imaginary’ foreign horrors, Lu Xun explores

This dreamlike quality also adds an element of surrealism

how ill-equipped Chinese society is to adapt to foreign ideas.

to each story. Juansheng’s portrait of his lover is unclear, a pool

Conclusively, one can see that Lu Xun and H. P. Lovecraft

disturbed by the droplets of his own expectations – the reality

used the same techniques of memory and surrealism to provide

of her personality glimpsed only in the micro-seconds in which

social criticism, invoke horror, and coax their reader into embracing

the narrator loses track of it himself. She enters the narrative not

a new literary style.

as a complete character but only ever through a single sense at a time. Her footsteps, her expression, her voice; they are never quite drawn together but scattered in a cubist’s impression of femininity. Lovecraft’s sailor’s recollections are similarly distorted by the mention of narcotic influence, and disjointed allusions to other



s is common in the literary world, each of the authors here began their adult lives in a scientific career path.

works of fiction from Paradise Lost to the Odyssey. The character’s

Lu Xun’s humanitarianism shows in his initial choice to train as a

desperate grasp for points upon which to focus his nightmare

medical doctor, whereas Lovecraft’s cosmological whimsy is evident

memory further disturb it in their disjointedness; a comment on

in his brief occupation as an astronomer. Science left its stain on

how Western understanding is incapable of dealing with the non-

each of their literary works, and in nothing else is the gulf between

Western world.

their cultures more apparent.

Moreover, these references demonstrate a surprising invocation

A scientific quality happens to be perhaps the most fascinating

of literary modernism in Lovecraft’s work. Though he refers to

trait of Gothic literature, one usually lost under the umbrella

classic works of literature, he does so in the context of a reality so

subheading of ‘subversion’. This peculiarity is that of mixing

warped that it warps them with it; these works are transformed

scientific enquiry with grotesque, supernatural impossibilities in

from authoritative points of cultural reference to meaningless

such a way that the two are mutually indistinguishable. Subversive

snippets of useless information. Even great fantasies have no

indeed, yet the habit requires its own exploration in light of the

match for the horrors of this modern un-reality; the knowledge

historical context of the emergence of the genre. The turn of the

that ‘nameless things… may rise above the billows to drag down

century saw an increase in socio-scientific debate concerning the

in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted

matter of ‘race’ following Darwin, the development of arms that

mankind’. Lovecraft thus demonstrates the same awareness as Lu

would destroy millions, the use of unwilling bodies for medical

Xun for the necessity of a new means of understanding; a need

33 | Yenching Review

学术 progress;11 in short, science was being weaponized against humanity

Diary of a Madman.14 The driving idea being that the Chinese are

both figuratively and physically on a global scale.

backward, constrained by their culture.

Lovecraft’s awareness of the horrors of scientific exploitation

To this effect, Lu Xun employs the Gothic technique of

on the grounds of the misappropriation of Darwinist theory is

blending horror with science. In Medicine, a young boy is fed the

both apparent and multifaceted. In the story Herbert West –

blood of an executed prisoner in an attempt to cure himself of



Lovecraft plays on contemporary fears of man’s

consumption. Blood is spilled in order to protect the country from

power over life by exploring Dr. West’s morbid infatuation with the

revolution, and it is used in a futile subversion of death to sustain

desire to reanimate a corpse. In this story, the mentality necessary

life. Chinese Traditional Medicine is thus portrayed as a dangerous,

for the development of Social Darwinist ideas rears its ugly head for

useless relic of the past which prevents scientific progress – or

the first – yet regrettably not the last – time in the Necronomicon.

at least the search for effective medicine. However, what is most

West’s reanimation serum is ineffective on the peasant bodies he

horrifying about this story is not necessarily the image of the

steals, because they do not have the same capacity for ‘reason’ that

young boy swigging blood, nor his death, but the absence of the

a man of letters possesses. More disturbingly, when the character

supernatural. Lu Xun’s narrative ends with a chance encounter

attempts to reanimate an ‘African’ man, Lovecraft writes that he

between the mothers of the executed man and the sick boy at their

was a ‘monstrosity’, with ‘forearms so large [he] could not help

sons’ graves. The former entreats the spirit of her son to reveal


but think of them as forelegs’. The animalization of the African

itself to her by having a nearby crow perch on his grave as a sign.

coupled with the insinuations that poorer people are less capable

Indifferent, not even defiant, the crow flies into the distance with

of rational thought than the doctor and his companion point

a single caw.15 Nature itself mocks the ancient Chinese belief in

damningly to the conclusion that Lovecraft was an advocate of

spirits and the afterlife. Gothic technique without Gothic essence –

Social Darwinism, and that he had been taken in by the discourses

Lu Xun has his own brand of horror, characterized by metaphysical

on racial development that saturated his Imperialist society.


Lu Xun stands on the other side of the discourse of racial

In Medicine and Reanimator, each author explores man’s

dominance which emerged in Darwin’s wake. He was a member of

desire to elongate life - the crucial difference between the stories lies

one of the ‘races’ whose features and histories were being assessed

in the result of this desire. For Lovecraft, the disturbing element

by Western scientific authors who assumed genetic superiority. One

is that the science works. Dr. West is kidnapped and presumably

of these commentators, Arthur Smith, left a particular impression

killed by the bestial product of his empiricist medicine; a horde of

upon Lu Xun with his 1894 work Chinese Characteristics, in

silent, vengeful bodies. Lu Xun’s horror, on the other hand, comes

which Smith made sweeping generalizations about the Chinese

not from success but failure. Traditional Chinese Medicine fails

based on his personal experiences as a missionary in China. James

to save a life, a failed revolution results in mass executions; the

Pusey makes a compelling case in Lu Xun and Evolution that Lu

crow fails to show signs of the supernatural. Both narratives end

Xun’s reading of Smith inspired the sentiment ‘we can change’ in

in gloomy, silent hopelessness. Reanimator’s narrator is doomed to live in a world alongside undead monsters, where man’s scientific

11 Kenny, Stephen, How Black Slaves were Routinely sold as ‘Specimens’ to White Doctors’, Health and Medicine ILF Science 2015 available online

progress ironically and subversively gives his most archaic desires for violence, revenge, and immortality corporeal and malevolent

12 Lovecraft, Herbert West – Reanimator, p34 -57.

14 Pusey, James, Lu Xun and Social Darwinism available online

13 =

15 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, p58.

Academics | 34

form. The convict’s mother meanwhile must live alone in a world

and subverted it yet again. He invokes a call to the supernatural,

where monstrous acts of violence fail to serve their purpose, either

to the grotesque and extremely Gothic image of the consumption

to protect the country or her son.

of human blood, but ultimately strips it of anything enchanted.

Juxtaposing the darkness in these works thus illuminates a

Lovecraft uses monsters to create a fearful mirage of his society,

social reading in each. Lovecraft’s monsters, not supernatural but

while Lu Xun sets the stage for their arrival but in the end leaves

unreal, serve as comment on the monstrous capability of science,

humanity unadorned; alone to cope with itself.

whereas Lu Xun’s hyperrealism draws crushing attention to the

Each author draws horror from cultural self-reflection, their

murderous danger of China’s unwillingness to embrace the same

methods defined by a dialogue of racial, cultural and scientific

empiricist reality. Lu Xun has taken the spirit of the relationship

dominance sweeping from the West.

between the supernatural and the scientific in Gothic Literature

35 | Yenching Review

学术 Madness Madness, in its wild, untameable words, proclaims its own meaning; in its chimeras, it utters its secret truth.16


n the 21st Century, the concept of ‘madness’ is inseparable from Foucault’s historical masterpiece on the subject,

Madness and Civilisation. In his assessment of how madness was treated throughout the ages, he argues that during the Renaissance, the insane were portrayed as if they possessed a special wisdom about the nature of society. To be ‘insane’ was to blur the distinction between what men are by nature, and what men are by convention. Gothic Literature, in its Romance, saw a resurgence in this idea. Epitomised by Stoker’s Renfield,17 the zoophagus obsessed with the consumption of life, a Gothic ‘lunatic’ is a discomforting statuette of contemporary society. Lovecraft and Lu Xun both use madness in Foucault’s Renaissance or Gothic sense to provide a commentary on large societal issues. Fascinatingly, they both also summon their characters’ demons by the medium of their inheritance. Even more compellingly, in Diary of a Madman and The Rats in the Walls, each author brings the reader directly into the madman’s thrall by placing us in their mind.18 19 In each of these narratives, the author uses a first person perspective so that the reader must directly follow the character’s descent into insanity. The overarching message of Lu Xun’s madman is ‘we can change’.20 Deeply paranoid, the character is convinced that his brother and friends are trying to murder, butcher, and eat him. He is clearly haunted by the same thing which causes the reader so much horror in Medicine – the Chinese historical habit of 16 Foucault, Michel, Madness and Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the

consuming human blood and flesh in times of sickness or famine. This character’s ‘madness’ manifests as a desire to ‘save the children’ from their brutal cultural inheritance. His paranoia is a heightened sense of how his national history and habits are preventing the development of rationality. Lovecraft’s madmen exhibit a similar awareness of an archaic monstrosity lurking on the periphery of modern society. In The Rats in the Walls, our protagonist is an upstanding gentleman on a quest to refurbish a stately old mansion – only to discover that it is built on a mass human grave of his own ancestors’ making.21 The haunted house is perhaps the most common of Gothic tropes, but if we read this story in the same way we have already read Lu Xun, we can bring new dimensions to Lovecraft’s subterranean sepulchre. Lying dormant beneath our Gothic mansion lies a relic of the old world. An altar to Cybele, the Magna Mater whose worship was brought into Rome from Phrygia in 204BC. The initiation process into her sanctuary has been horrifying men for two millennia – he must castrate himself in order to enjoy the Goddess’ favour. Lovecraft takes this knowledge and turns it, rather strangely but also delightfully for the purpose of my comparison with Lu Xun, into an act of cannibalism.22 The protagonist of this tale finds himself compelled, upon coming into contact with her ancestral relic, to attack and attempt to consume his companions. Reading this in light of Diary of a Madman, we can understand the tomb not just to be a tool of horror but a symbol of the bestial element of human nature which, while being suppressed or in this case literally built over by modernity, will always have some degree of power over the rational, cultivated, modern mind. Elsewhere in the Necronomicon, Lovecraft employs similar ideas, but with an even greater contrast to Lu Xun’s realism. In The Music of Eric Zann and The Shadow out of Time, a university

Age of Reason, Translated by Richard Howard, London and New York, Tavistock

physicist and a professor of economics respectively are witness to

(1987), p27.

primordial, supernatural beings or worlds that exist outside the

17 Stoker, Bram, Dracula, Penguin Group (USA), Ch.XI p202. 18 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, p41. 19 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon p90.

21 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon, p103.

20 Refer to previous sections

22 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon, p104.

Academics | 36

control of modern understanding.23


In the former, the eccentric

brutal displays of madness and the supernatural to provide social

and speechless character Zann plays the viola ‘to make a noise,

critique. Lu Xun, while using many of the same techniques as we

to ward something off – what, I could not imagine, awesome

find in the Gothic style, discards this decoration in exchange for the

though I felt it to be’. The musician, not possessing the faculty of

realist experiences of homeless, illiterate women. In one instance,

speech which would allow him to participate in normal society,

he pre-empts the most touching scene in Orwell’s 1945 Animal

nevertheless dedicates himself to protecting it from the impossible

Farm when he puts us in the mind of a bereaved peasant woman

terrors that lurk beyond his window.

who lacks the vocabulary to express her grief. Articulating her mind

Eric Zann’s music thus introduces the idea of skill or intellect

without articulation, the author’s writing validates the suffering of

into the development of madness. In the early 20th Century,

those without the skill to read it. The scene from Animal Farm I

mental illnesses such as depression and other related personality

am referring to is that in which Clover overlooks her home in post-

disorders were understood in Western psychology to belong to

revolutionary misery in silence – a silence formed not of choice

the highest orders of white male society – needing a complex

but her inability to articulate complex emotional thoughts.28 The

emotional and intellectual psyche to take hold.25 Indeed, we see

similarity here thus allows us to identify this interest in the peasant

this mentality in The Shadow out of Time when the main character

class as a revolutionary quality in Lu Xun. Like Orwell, he has seen

is possessed by a primeval demon who seeks to use him as a vessel

revolutions come and fail. Unlike Lovecraft, the Chinese author has

with which to study and learn. His emotional disturbance is met

an awareness of the hardship of the working classes, of the validity

with sympathy and measured kindness – contrast this with the

of their emotions, and of the social structures that keep them

‘Italian peasant woman’ in Reanimator who, insane at the loss of



her child, is instead coldly described as ‘hysterical’. Madness, in

Comparing each author’s construct of ‘madness’ reveals that,

Lovecraft’s work, is characterised by an awareness of or contact

while they both use a Foucauldian model of insanity to magnify

with the corporealised demons that haunt modernity – a trait that

the relics of viciousness which threaten the modern world, Lu Xun

requires a sophisticated level of intellect.

does so with a heightened sense of realism not only with relation to

It is this quality of Lovecraft’s that, when mirrored back onto

the way the madness manifests itself,29 but to the part of society to

Lu Xun, reveals the heightened social awareness of the latter. The

be assessed. It is a credit to the revolutionary environment in which

Chinese author’s interest in society is not restricted to its highest

Lu Xun was writing that he, unlike his American contemporary,

echelons. In fact, many of his stories focus on the emotional

showed interest in the minds of those usually silenced by history

complexities of not only men in the lowest strata of society (i.e.

- poor women. From the other angle, treating Lovecraft’s haunted

the illiterate and animalistic Ah-Q, or the unfortunate Kong-Yiji)27

house with the same degree of literary respect with which we have

but also of women. Gothic fiction relies on fictitious, flamboyant,

learned to credit Lu Xun, we can understand the building not just as a Gothic normality but as a commentary on contemporary fears

23 Lovecraft, Music of Eric Zann in Necronomicon, p58.

of human nature.

24 Lovecraft, Shadow out of time in Necronomicon, p555. 25 Prior, Pauline M., Gender and Mental Health, The British Journal of Psychiatry (Sep. 2000), p43. 26 Lovecraft, Herbert West – Reanimator in Necronomicon, p45. 27 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, stories of Kong Yiji pp.42-48 and Ah-Q pp.101-172.

37 | Yenching Review

28 Orwell, George, Animal Farm, Secker and Warburg (1945), Ch.7. 29 There are no demons or Gods in Lu Xun’s madness, just history.

学术 Conclusion


o draw to a close, I have argued that by contrasting two of the world’s most prolific yet strikingly different

authors, one can reveal an abundance of similarities in style, and even content, which broaden our understanding of each writer’s cultural mentality and literary technique. The most striking results of this comparative assessment have been, firstly, the clear use of Gothic themes such as scientific subversion, the supernatural, death and horror by Lu Xun. Contrasting Lu Xun’s ‘Gothic’ with Lovecraft’s Gothic exposes the lack of anything supernatural or unreal in Lu Xun’s work; revealing a great deal about what each author found frightening, Fear, one of the most primitive, reactionary of emotions, can always be used to read society’s reflective anxieties. The lack of monsters in Diary of a Madman, and their contrasting omnipresence in the Necronomicon, teaches the reader that while the 19th Century

Bibliography Dunham, George F. (1853), Journal of George Dunham, 1853 available online courtesy of Rice, Texas at https://scholarship.rice. edu/jsp/xml/1911/9247/1/aa00026.tei.html Foucault, Michel (1987), Madness and Civilisation: A History of

American psyche was haunted by the beasts it feared future

Insanity in the Age of Reason, Translated by Richard Howard, London

scientific progress could conjure, the Chinese were held by fear of

and New York, Tavistock.

the spirits of the past. Secondly, the contrast in the way Lu Xun and Lovecraft assess the mentalities of their characters with regards to psychology and madness is revealing of the revolutionary quality in Lu Xun. While his essays explicitly reveal his socio-political intent, reading Lu

Kenny, Stephen (2015), How Black Slaves were Routinely sold as ‘Specimens’ to White Doctors’, Health and Medicine ILF Science 2015, available online at Lovecraft, H.P., (2008), Necronomicon;, the best weird tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Edited and with an Afterword by Stephen Jones, Gollancz London.

Xun’s fiction next to Lovecraft’s shows the reader how while the

Lu, Xun and William A. Lyell (1990), Diary of a Madman and

latter was – in keeping with an Western Imperialistic mentality –

Other Stories, Translated by William A. Lyell, University of Hawaii Press.

interested solely in the psyches of the literati, the former undertook an assessment of the whole of society, highlighting the fears and sorrows of those without words to do so themselves. Lastly, this juxtaposition also allows us to conduct a more

Orwell, George (1945), Animal Farm, Secker and Warburg. Prior, Pauline M. (2000), Gender and Mental Health, The British Journal of Psychiatry. Pusey, James (1998), Lu Xun and Social Darwinism, SUNY Press. Qian, Liqun (2007), (Literature Department, Peking University),

sophisticated analysis of Lovecraft’s Gothic monoliths; he is equally as

How to Treat the Tradition from Confucius to Lu Xun, Reading Li

interested in providing social commentary and criticism as Lu Xun –

Ling’s Stray Dog: My Reading of the Analects, found online at http://

just from the opposite side of the 20th Century dominance discourse.

His use of zombies, haunted houses, werewolves and ghosts should, instead of being treated as a whole contributing towards the fantasy horror genre, be taken apart separately and analysed as what they are – grotesque embodiments of social anxieties.

Webpage/Stray%20Dog.htm Rankin F. Harrison (1834), The white man’s grave; a visit to Sierra Leone in 1834 available online courtesy of Oxford University at https://; Stoker, Bram (2003), Dracula, Penguin Classics.

Academics | 38

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Editorial Dear Readers,

It is my immense pleasure to present the second issue of the Yenching Review. There have been quite a few changes that we decided to make this time over, new sections were added and improvements made to the already existing ones. In fact, overall, it seems to be a completely new publication altogether. Hardly surprising, as with a new team come new ideas and I am very excited what changes the Review will see when the whole editorial team is replaced this year with our new scholars. After the first issue was published, we have received many comments, Anastasiia Ilina, Russia

suggestions and questions for which we are grateful and we hope that

Editor in Chief

our readers will continue to guide our work in the future. I would like to especially thank students from outside of the Academy, who have

contributed their writing or by participating in the Photo Contest. We look forward to working closely with all departments and programs of PKU and cannot emphasize enough that before being Yenching scholars, we are Peking University students and wish to work together on such projects in the future. I would like to thank all the editors and contributing writers for their hard work this semester. We look forward to greeting new writers and welcoming back members of the old team. Finally, I am sincerely happy on behalf of the Yenching Review team to present you with the second edition of our publication. Although it seems that hardly any time has passed, indeed it has been less than a year, it is already time to call this the last issue for the first cohort of the Yenching scholars, as we pass the project on to the new students. Editor-in-chief and fellow scholar:

39 | Yenching Review


Joanna De Smedt, Belgium

Ricarda Brosch, Germany



Maya Cypris, Israel

Julien Legrand, France



Nothando Khumalo, Swaziland

Chen Qiqi, China



Ani Grigoryan, Armenia

Fu Duanling, China



Nicola Angeli, Italy

Naoya Matsumoto, Japan


Chief Designer

Editorial | 40

Yenching Review Spring Draft  
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