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China Story Yearbook offers contradictions amid crisis

10 May 2022

When Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai dared to complain about sexual harassment by a powerful Chinese man, her post on Chinese social media platform Weibo disappeared within 20 minutes.

Peng also disappeared and subsequent reappearances have been highly stage-managed.

While Peng’s story is one of many in the China Story Yearbook 2021: Contradiction, the detailed synopsis of China also presents stories of action and reaction, of motion and resistance.

Titled, From Crisis to Contradiction: New Normals, authors Linda Jaivin and Dr Esther Sunkyung Klein collate the concept of contradiction, depicted by the image of an unstoppable spear meeting an impenetrable shield.

Dr Esther Sunkyung Klein said the theme of contradiction plays out in different ways across the different realms of society, culture, environment, labour, politics, and international relations.

“The reason why this expression is a spear and a shield comes from a story in an ancient philosophical text about a man who is selling spears and shields.

“He holds up his spear and says, ‘this spear is so sharp, nothing can withstand it’.

“He holds up his shield and says, ‘this shield is so sturdy, nothing can pierce it’.

“I think that’s something that really expresses our present moment,” Dr Esther Sunkyung Klein says.

She says the many facets of the COVID-19 pandemic fractured into pictures of contradiction throughout Chinese society and the Chinese sphere of influence.

“The China Story Yearbook: Contradiction offers an accessible take on this complex and contradictory moment in the history of China and of the world.

“This year’s Yearbook presents stories of action and reaction, of motion and resistance,” Dr Esther Sunkyung Klein says.

The China Story Yearbook will be unveiled with a panel discussion at the Australian Centre on China in the World on 10 May, featuring insights from Ausma Bernot, Benjamin Herscovitch, Annie Luman Ren, and Yujie Zhu who will discuss their unique contributions to the yearbook.

Find out more about the China Story Yearbook: Contradiction here.

Dr Esther Sunkyung Klein has also provided an overview of the yearbook in this 4-minute video.

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team