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One Country, Two Systems: an unfinished experiment?

Thomas Hughes12 February 2016

In this lecture by the former Dean of Law of the University of Hong Kong, Professor Johannes Chan, we were taken on a whistle-stop tour of the history of the legal and political confrontations between Hong Kong and the mainland government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

By Pasu Au Yeung via Wikimedia Commons

Protesters during the Umbrella Movement. By Pasu Au Yeung via Wikimedia Commons

Most people’s recent images of Hong Kong are dominated by the “Umbrella Movement” of 2014. The mostly student protestors were pushing for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) in mainland China to allow a free selection of candidates for the Hong Kong Chief Executive and Legislative council.

This was the culmination of increasing tensions between the two regions as they have spent the 20 years since Hong Kong was returned to China testing the boundaries of their relationship.

Since the protests, the NPCSC has been looking to exercise greater control over Hong Kong. Publishers and journalists have disappeared and academia has been interfered with. So what has gone wrong in this relationship?

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Fighting for freedom of expression in China and beyond

ucyow3c18 March 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Dylan Brethour (UCL History MA student)

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental, universal and transnational right, only to be restricted in extremis.”

Chinese newspaper The World Journal. Credit Flickr user Canadian Pacific: http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/

Chinese newspaper the World Journal.
Credit: http://bit.ly/1gtFahG

So began John Kampfner’s portion of “China and Freedom of Speech: new systems for accountability in the press”. Kampfner, a journalist and former Chief Executive of the Index on Censorship, set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Organised by UCL’s China Centre for Health & Humanity and Centre for Transnational History, the event was introduced Dr Axel Korner and Dr Vivienne Lo and included presentations and a subsequent discussion by Professor Zhengxiao Guo, Dr Lily Chang, and Mr Stephen Perry.

Despite some differences among the panellists, there was a common sense that no country can afford the luxury of indifference in the maintenance of something so essential as freedom of expression.

While China was the locus of the discussion, all of the participants touched on broader global threats to freedom of expression. Kampfner discussed some of the methods governments use to disguise restrictive measures.

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China’s self-identity as a modern civilisation

ucyow3c24 February 2014

pencil-icon

Written by Bobby Xinyue (UCL Greek & Latin)

How can the translation of a single word sum up the cultural history of a nation?

In the inaugural lecture of the Centre for Research into Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) Professor Wang Mingming of Peking University argued that the way in which the word “civilisation” was translated into Chinese and understood in Chinese history is typical of the fluidity of civilisations — the bringing in of the outside.

Thomas Cole, 'The Course of Empire – Destruction' (1836)

Thomas Cole, ‘The Course of Empire – Destruction’ (1836)

Wang Mingming’s illuminating lecture was prefaced by a mission statement from one of the co-directors of CREDOC, Professor Maria Wyke (UCL Greek & Latin), who outlined that the objective of the centre is to bring together colleagues around the world to compare and explore the geographical, material, cultural and ethnic structures of civilisations, and to probe the relationships between all these throughout the history of mankind.

Professor Wang’s lecture, entitled ‘To learn from ancestors or to borrow from the foreigners? China’s self-identity as a modern civilisation’, demonstrated precisely how the centre’s objective could be achieved.

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Reducing Maternal Deaths: China’s efforts since the 1950s

sejj11821 June 2011

China’s health policies have often garnered international attention – today we look at a success story, reducing the rate of maternal death from the 1950s to today.

‘Reducing Maternal Deaths: China’s efforts since the 1950s’, was held on June 15 at UCL’s Cruciform Building. The session featured three academics: Dr Vivienne Lo of UCL, Professor Lucy Chen of Peking University and Professor Therese Hesketh of UCL.  Dr Lo gave a presentation on the new interdisciplinary and multi-institutional UCL China Centre for Health and Humanity. A collaboration primarily between UCL and SOAS, the partnership aims to bring together scholars working on China-related topics.
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