I should be on my layover in Toronto now and gearing up mentally for the long trip to Beijing (Toronto-Beijing direct, who knew?). You could probably guess that since I’m writing this, my flight this morning was cancelled due to a snowstorm over Boston. Bummer. Nearly all of Air Canada’s phone service was tied up as I’m sure most of their fly-range has been impacted by the snow, but at the end of a long wait and a lot of elevator music I managed to switch my flight over to one flying out of Boston tomorrow. I won’t be taking much, a lot of wool sweaters, an e book reader and a laptop so I can keep up with the blog and with my scheduled interviews (!!) Wish me luck!
Pictures from the snow days:
On another note, I’ve updated my source page here. I think for just a few weeks worth of research this is a pretty robust list. Here are my top picks:
1. I know I already talked about Mao’s War on Nature by Judith Shapiro, but I’ve been reading another book of hers called China’s Environmental Challenges that is both recent 2012, and a simple, clearly written interdisciplinary layout of China’s environmental challenges. She is so good.
2. Papers by Haakon Lein and Yuling Shen, from what I can tell two of the major english language scholars to deal with water management in Xinjiang. They describe both the legacies and continuations of maoist-era-origin policies like ‘opening up wasteland’ to newer sustainability initiatives that have gone awry ‘greening the desert’. I talked a bit about this policy in my post ‘Xiangdu Anthony and other Fine Wines of Xinjiang’
3. Anything from China Dialogue. Straight up. One of the best independent Chinese-English sources for environmental news and great journalism all together.
4. When a Billion Chinese Jump, by Jonathan Watts. One of those books that both has a great cover (you know what they say) but more importantly great readable content on China’s current environmental challenges, organized by region of China. Great chapter on Xinjiang, ‘Flaming Mountain, Melting Heaven’.
Other news over here as well. I’ve been reaching out to a bunch of contacts for interview but due to the timing (Chinese New Year) and to what an exceptionally sensitive time it is to be asking political questions about Xinjiang the rejection rate is high. Most of them have said “come back in a couple of months when things have died down” or something along the lines of “it is Chunjie, we are all gone and can’t help you” both of which are pretty reasonable. That being said, some great interview subjects have come through. I went into this pretty naive about what questions I would be able to ask, and have learned the hard way what it really means to do politics-related research in China.
After receiving so many rejections on the basis of political sensitivity I went back and looked at this years worth of news from Xinjiang. Its true, things have been exceptionally tense starting with a car full of supposed Uyghur separatists crashing and burning in front of Tiananmen square in Beijing, a knife attack in the Kunming train station (again, Uyghur/ Han Violence) during the spring, another attack on the Urumqi train station with bombs and knives during May, over 20 Han shop owners killed around Kashgar last winter and just this month a police shooting of 6 Uyghurs near Khotan. Arrest rates have gone up by nearly 100% and the ‘Strike Hard Maximum Pressure’ policy appears to be living up to its name, with much foreign criticism on the basis of repression of Islam and cultural expression. For a very brief paper specific version of this year’s events go to the New York Times Uighurs News page.
Next time I post here I’ll be in Beijing! 好激动！