The China Debate Final Revision (2nd half) Notes



Deliver Driver, Stuck in the System by Lai Youxuan

Renwu Magazine: Start in 80s Non-fiction stories


“Our slogan is ‘Meituan delivers everything fast 美团外卖,送啥都快’ , and the average arrival time is 28 minutes.It’s a great technological achievement.”

“Speeding, running red lights, driving against traffic… these drivers’ decisions to contravene traffic regulations constitute an ‘inverse algorithm, ’ which is a necessary labor practice created by the drivers who have been under the control and discipline of the system algorithm for a long time.”

“Drivers can never fight system delivery times on their own, all we can do is exceed the speed limit to make up for it.”

“System tells another two minutes you to take an overpass”

All it takes is a heavy rain to shatter this “optimality. “

Different food preperation time, fixed”delivery time”

Waiting for the elevator is a real pain for us. You have no idea. “

shenzhen ubann

Safety education video &”Say cheese”

Their scooter typically maxed out at around 40 kilometers per hour, well above the new speed limit.


“His income went down, especially after the pandemic, when more and more people took up delivery service, and sometimes there were no orders at all.”

“Among those signing up, factory workers ranked first, followed by retail workers.”

They decided to be a delivery driver mostly because money. Many of them wanted to go back to their hometown to open their own small bussiness after earning enough money.

“Many readers have told us that this article has given them a deep feeling - it is not only the delivery drivers who are trapped in the system. A friend just came out of the subway station after reading this article. It was after ten o’clock in the evening and she had just got off work. She told me that at that moment, she felt that she was also a delivery driver. She was chasing KPIs every day, and it seems like not working overtime was her fault. Others say it’s too breathless to read, because it’s almost a narrative of their daily lives.”

“The platform outsources the delivery business to an outside company, removing any direct employment relationship with the worker. The worker purchases accident insurance, so when the worker has an accident the platform sends him to the insurance company . ” In this “buck passing” , Zheng said, “vague labor relations also make it more difficult for workers to safeguard their rights. ”

Non-confrontational Activism

The Other Digital China by Wang Jing

Non-confrontational Activism “The platform outsources the delivery business to an outside company, removing any direct employment relationship with the worker. The worker purchases accident insurance, so when the worker has an accident the platform sends him to the insurance company . ” In this “buck passing” , Zheng said, “vague labor relations also make it more difficult for workers to safeguard their rights. ”

“In authoritarian countries where sensors also have double identities and move among various subject positions to negotiate their momentary allegiance, non confrontational activists stand a good chance of functioning as change agents”

“Paradoxically, incrementalism works not just because it is the safest route but because it is the fastest way to fulfill social change in China”

  • Incrementalism: (from Britannica) Policies result from a process of interaction and mutual adaptation.

  • Walking around instead of walking through obstacles.


Everybody a donor “人人可公益”, “和谐社会”

everybody a donor

  • 2012 微公益 by & 腾讯月捐 – bypass traditional donation.
  • Shadow advocacy (午餐计划)a very inactive way of engaging in activism

Population Planning 计划生育

Music video of I bear the second child for the country

Leftover Women by Leta Hong Fincher

According to the state media, married women’s husbands only have affairs because their wives are too dull, and “leftover” women are only single because they are too picky. It is worth noting that none of the state media editorials warns men to be more caring husbands or their wives will start having affairs.

Restless single men are seen as a threat to the foundation of Chinese society. And single women threaten the moral fabric as well, for being free agents, unnatural in failing to perform their duty to give birth to a child and tame a restless man. From the government’s perspective, married couples are much less likely to cause trouble.

The State Council names the sex-ratio imbalance as one of the population pressures because it “causes a threat to social stability.” It also cites the “low quality of the general population, which makes it hard to meet the requirements of fierce competition for national strength.”

a random picture I found

birth control policies



  • Narrative Change: “multi-cultural nation” –*war on terror
  • GWOT: Roberts: “GWOT is not a war at all but a narrative that can serve as a political tool in the hands of states to advance a variety of agendas” the rhetoric of counterterrorism has been put into service as “justification for attacking domestic opponents, especially if they are Muslims” (64).
  • Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (新疆建设兵团)
    • Sits largely outside of (or has equal power to) jurisdiction of Xinjiang Provincial Government
    • Estimated 85-90% Han Chinese
    • 2.6 million employees
  • By 2018: extensive reports of Uyghurs being sent to reeducation or internment facilities. Digital Enclosure


Terror Capitalism by Darren Byler

  • Preface and Introduction
    • Framing the political and economic stake of Uyghur colonization as a frontier of global capitalism rather than as a manifestation of tyrannical state communism or Asian despotism, as it is often framed by xenophobic North American politicians, also works to refuse a revival of Cold War binarisms.
      • how does Xinjiang relates to the world (very likely we in the U.S are using something produced by the factories with free labor of Uyghurs)
    • It meant attempting to refuse to turn their stories into a kind of pornography or objectification of settler-colonial oppression while at the same time acknowledging its totalizing presence.
      • decolonize the story
    • focusing on the way forms of dispossession were lived.
    • The economic value of the reeducation system comes from the way it actsas an experimental space for the research and development of predictive policing products, provides thousands upon thousands of security and education-related jobs, and produces hundreds of thousands of unfree Uyghur laborers who can be forced to work for low wages in the textile industry and service sector.
      • Not sure if it’s a good things, but people in Shanghai now are realizing that what Uyghurs suffer from is true and it’s probably a bit late to protest against it.
    • What happens to the value of Uyghur lives as lucrative state contracts are given the settler corporations to build and deploy technologies that surviel and manage Uyghur men and other populations? How can the implementation of this system be thought of as a broader process of dispossession? Finally, how does terror capitalism use systems of material and digital enclosure to hold targeted groups in place and produce new forms of self-discipline and labor for private manufacturers? … I argue that terror capitalism is manifested through digital enclosure, ethno-racialized devaluation, and material dispossession.
      • digital enclosure:
      • ethno-racialized devaluation:
      • material dispossession: (See Chapter 5)
    • Uyghur experiences of mass incarceration is that Uyghurs are being made the target of economistic transformation as unfree workers behind checkpoints, under cameras and satellites while simultaneously being targeted with epistemic retraining.
    • There, the detention system is a means rather than an end in itself of transforming an ethnic other into an unfree but economically productive workforce.
    • Since Han citizens themselves have been the subject of European and American racism, many scholars are reluctant to describe the process of Uyghur dispossession as a product of ethno-racialization.
    • “Structural relationship of political domination, occupation, and dispossession”
    • The overall goal of a settler nation is access to land and resources and the elimination of all obstacles that stand in its way.
    • Maoist multiculturalism defined improper forms of difference, opening the colonized to further state control
      • What are improper form of difference?
    • In the logic of the reeducation system, once this spirit of epistemic difference is broken,, the docile subject will be forced to accept subjectification.
  • Chapter 5
    • “The Blind Wanderer” in Chinese Discourse
    • The “unseeing,” “directionless” flow of bodies was viewed as a threat to the centrally planned communist revolution…. conveying a feeling of failure and irresponsibility
    • As Guang Lei has shown, the term came to refer to a form of “circular affirmation” between urban-based government policies that sought to control the inflow of cheap labor and the xenophobic urban popular culture that sought to deny strangers a right to live in the city.
    • Since the mid-1990s, officials in Xinjiang and across the nation have begun to use the term farmer-worker to describe migrants rather than mangliu.
    • The “unseen,” “directionless” flow of bodies was viewed as a threat to the centrally planned communist revolution.
    • In the 1950s began the process of placing people within essentialized ethnic ascriptions without a politics of self-determination.
    • Back in those days, the divide between Han and ethnic others was not as stark.
      • those days refer to 1950s-1960s during communism period
    • state-owned and mainstream digital media often tried to frame Chen Ye’s images as migrants smiling through their pain, struggling to make China a better place. Yet those same media producers ad Culture Ministry officials refused to confront the systems of enclosure and devaluation that had produced the vulnerable conditions of Uyghur life in the first place.
      • There is a very satarical term to describe the firstsentence: 丧事喜办. I think this is very common in propaganda/state media: using people’s struggle to see how hard it is to build the nation… and thus we should cherish ccp?? anyways.
      • Definitely a part of the “grand narrative”, 忆苦思甜, Maoist communism legacy


        Thohti: Present-day Ethnic Problem in Xinjiang

Published in 2011, written for the higher official, editted in December 2013. This is not the final draft.

维吾尔大学生失业问题和维 吾尔农村劳动力严重过剩

  • 维吾尔族大学生实际就业率应当低于15%
    • 就业机会中随时可见的明显的民族歧视,是造成少数民族大学 生就业困难的首要原因
  • 维吾尔族的城市化率实际只有10%左右, 人均耕地不足一亩


  • “双语教育”问题是除就业问题外,维吾尔社会反应最强烈的问题。新疆的双语教育,在推 行过程中,实质上变成了一种单语(汉语)教育,它在维吾尔社会,被普 遍认为是政府 有意要建立一个以汉文为主导的“一种语文,一个源流”教育制度,从文化上消灭维吾尔族 ,以行政方式加快民族同化与吞并。而随着双语教育的强制推行,维吾尔语不仅在教育领域,在行政、司法等诸多领域也处于不断被边缘化的境地。作为新疆的官方语言之一,维 吾尔语长期以来并未得到足够的尊重与重视, 维吾尔语应有的法律地位也未得到保障。
  • 传统社会的迅速解体和适应新环境的艰难 ,使人们很容易陷入愚昧、狭隘、野蛮和绝望的境地。


  • 地方政府的严格管控造成极大反弹
  • 与近些年来宗教政策的失败形成鲜明对照的,就是地下宗教活动泛滥。


  • 虽然今天政府对宗教的热情较以往已有了很高宽容度,但长期坚持无神论,对宗教问题缺乏系统研究,在遇到涉及宗教的问题时,政府易处于极为被动的应对局面。
  • 具体到新疆,则忽视了宗教在少数民族社会的特殊地位,在处理宗教问题时,人们几乎很 难分得清政府的社会世俗化主张与压制少数民族文化两者的界限在哪里。尤其是在伊斯兰 教问题上,政府往往在专政机器的自信和对宗教问题缺少基本了解的恐惧之间剧烈摇摆。 而97年以来,反“三股势力”成为地方压倒一切的任务,但具体操作过程中,反宗教极端主 义却变成了反传统宗教,压制正常的宗教信仰。


  • 2010年,新疆各民族杂居最大的城市乌鲁 木齐,出现了明显的汉族和维吾尔族各自向本民族占优势的城区搬迁集中的现象。
  • 新疆自解放后始在政府动员下大规模从内地移民,在当时的制度环境下,迁入新疆的汉族 人,几乎全部拥有体制内身份,而且大都安排在兵团内,它有其特定的历史因素

American Factory

China in Africa

Specter of Global China

  • South-south cooperation
  • What’s so different about Chinese capital?


The roundatable was really hard to follow and I need to take breaks in reading because it was… very bad. I organize the quotes according to the speech they make here

P.S Sheet 1 is the quote to the 1st half of the semester.

“Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals” by Yao Lin

  • Political beaconism: traumatizing lived experience of Maoist totalitarianism
  • Civilizational beaconism: heritages of scientific racism and social receptive to anti-immigrant and Islamophobic paranoia
    • is an unquestioning admiration and glorification of the presumably ‘advanced’ Western ‘civilization’ that necessitates all of its political achievements and perfections

List of All the Materials

  • Yi-Ling Liu, “China’s ‘Involuted’ Generation,” The New Yorker, May 2021. PDF below.
  • Manya Kotse, “The Concept of ‘Involution’ on Chinese Social Media.” Link below.
  • “Death By Degrees”, n + 1, no. 14 (2012). PDF below.
  • Lai Youxuan, “Delivery Drivers, Stuck in the System” (外卖骑手,困在系统里), tr. Freya Ge and David Ownby, Reading the China Dream, link below.
  • Selections from Jing Wang, The Other Digital China: Nonconfrontational Activism on the Social Web (Harvard University Press, 2019).
  • Chapters 1 and 5 from Darren Byler, Terror Capitalism; a selection from Ilham Tohti
  • Watch American Factory 美国工厂 (2019). This film is available on Netflix. Directed by Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar.
  • Read “This Chinese Company Moved Production to South Carolina to Save Money,” Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2016.
  • Read “The Politics of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the USA,” Journal of Asian and African Studies 55, no. 2 (2020): 254-272.
  • Read selection from Ching Kwan Lee, Specter of Global China (required).
  • Xu Jilin, Liu Qing, Bai Tongdong, and Wu Guanjun Reflect on BLM
  • “I Beg to Differ with Xu Jilin & Co.: The Intellectual Trap of the (Anti-) Political Correctness Framing”
  • Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals- Alternative Formats

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