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In Assessing the Landscape of Taiwan and Korean Studies in Comparison, the chapters offer a reflection on the state of the field of Taiwan and Korea Studies. For the editors, the volume’s purpose was to identify not just their similarities, but also a reflection on their differences. Both have national identities formed in a colonial period. The surrender of Japan in 1945 ignited the light of independence for Korea, but this would be ideologically split within five years. For Taiwan, that end forced it into a born-again form of nationalism with the arrival of the Chinese Nationalists.

Taiwan and South Korea’s economic development illustrate a progressive transition and key to understanding this is the relationship between ‘modernization’ and ‘democracy’. By looking at Korea and Taiwan, the chapters in the volume broaden an understanding of the interconnectivity of the region.
Volume Editor: Yunxiang Yan
Chinese Families Upside Down offers the first systematic account of how intergenerational dependence is redefining the Chinese family. The authors make a collective effort to go beyond the conventional model of filial piety to explore the rich, nuanced, and often unexpected new intergenerational dynamics. Supported by ethnographic findings from the latest field research, novel interpretations of neo-familism address critical issues from fresh perspectives, such as the ambivalence in grandparenting, the conflicts between individual and family interests, the remaking of the moral self in the face of family crises, and the decisive influence of the Chinese state on family change. The book is an essential read for scholars and students of China studies in particular and for those who are interested in the present-day family and kinship in general.

Abstract

Late socialist countries are transforming faster than ever. Across China, Laos and Vietnam, where market economies coexist with socialist political rhetoric and the Communist party state’s rule, sweeping processes of change open up new vistas of imaginaries of the future alongside uncertainty and anxiety. These countries are three of very few living examples that combine capitalist economics with party state politics. Consequently, societal transformations in these contexts are subject to pressures and agendas not found elsewhere, and yet they are no less subject to global forces than elsewhere. As all three countries maintain substantial rural populations, and because those rural areas are themselves places of change, how rural people across these changing contexts undertake future making is a timely and significant question. The contributions in the issue address this question by engaging with lived experiences and government agendas across Laos, China and Vietnam, showing a politics of development in which desire and hope are entangled with the contradictions and struggles of late socialism.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
Author: Hy V. Luong

Abstract

In relation to the international academic debate on global neoliberal ideology and its influence on individual subjectivities, this paper examines family visions among the older and younger members of translocal households in contemporary rural Vietnam. Data from a longitudinal study of seven rural Vietnamese communities from 2000 to 2016 suggest that people in rural Vietnam consider the care of the young and the old, including its financial aspects, primarily an individual and family responsibility. They define a good life in terms not only of material and modern comfort, but also of family relations and responsibilities. While neoliberalism constitutes one ideological strand in contemporary Vietnamese policy circles, this paper suggests that it is ahistorical and simplistic to attribute people’s emphasis on individual and family responsibilities in caring for the young and the old to neoliberalism.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
Author: Guido Sprenger

Abstract

James C. Scott claimed that upland Southeast Asians consider their good life as dependent on their autonomy from the state. Given that the state today is present in various forms in the uplands, current uplanders can be considered as post-Zomian. Staying and moving represent two contrastive values in this region whose realisation serves to make a good life possible. This article considers these values through the issue of resettlement in Laos, a situation in which local values intersect with or contradict government planning. Even in situations in which the state demonstrates its hegemony and force, ethnic Rmeet uplanders tend to stress their own agency. Therefore, resettlement and its avoidance may both appear as the realisation of local values, sometimes in the shape of ‘village agency’, as the good life is seen as life in a community.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
Author: Kerry Liu

Abstract

Starting from the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in November 2013, China has begun another round of state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform. By examining policy documents, analysing the pilot SOE s and conducing an empirical study based on a unique dataset of control rights transfers between SOE s and privately owned enterprises in Chinese stock markets during 2014–2019, this study concludes that this round of SOE reform has made China’s SOE s stronger and possibly bigger. These findings are important to firms, scholars and policy-makers around the world and make further contributions to the debates on China’s SOE reform.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
Author: Seb Rumsby

Abstract

This article focuses on the convergence of mass Christianisation and economic transformations among the Hmong of Vietnam’s northern highlands over the past thirty years. A history of impoverishment and ethnic discrimination has led hundreds of thousands of Hmong to follow Christianity as a perceived alternative path to progress instead of the state-led development agenda, despite sharing the same ‘will to improve’. By exploring local understandings about the means to development as well as new religious teaching on prosperity, entrepreneurialism and calculativity in a rapidly developing Hmong village, this paper queries the ‘elective affinity’ between new Christian movements and neoliberalism posited by other scholars. The case study highlights the awkward combination of ‘cooperative competitiveness’ accompanying a community-benefit tourism development model. Hmong Christian activity can both overlap and sit at odds with government agendas and market expansion, resulting in complex transformations and subjectivities which cannot simply be reduced to neoliberal logic.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies

Abstract

China’s intention to go global has been clear since Xi Jinping assumed power, displaying its grand strategy. Infrastructure projects supporting physical connectivity reveal China’s policies to expand its actions beyond the regional environment and consolidate its power projection. The Going Out policy has been the tool to back up Chinese investments in infrastructure, and African countries have offered a good opportunity to show what can be done in an almost bare terrain. Nigeria and Kenya are good examples to empirically demonstrate China’s intentions, as they have railway remodelling or construction projects underway.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies

Abstract

English-language studies of Korean drama (Korean TV serials) have tended to focus on the transnational consumption of drama in the context of the ‘Korean Wave’ (Hallyu). Analysing the classification and reception of Korean drama and its interaction with Korean audiences, this paper argues that there has been a significant shift both in the dramas produced and in the audience expectations and interactions with these texts. Building on twenty-one in-depth interviews and ethnographic data, the authors analyse the gendered structures of identification with the characters of dramas. Korean dramas are increasingly held to a standard of realism wherein audiences expect them to represent ‘reality’ rather than a fantastical escape from it. The authors argue, therefore, that dramas are also fulfilling a social function in being able to represent and generate dialogue over social problems in contemporary Korean society.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies

Abstract

Since 2008, a negative image of China has prevailed in Europe, leading to the country’s image crisis in the region. The state has implemented several policies to improve such a perception. This paper aims to examine the major tools of China’s attempts at influence in Europe, targeting the media and public opinion. Applying the concept of soft power and public diplomacy, we analyse the tools China uses to modify and shape public opinion about itself in Europe. The research framework comprises secondary resources on China’s foreign policy, soft power, public diplomacy and media strategy in Europe. We distinguish four primary influence tools: China buys European media outlets to prevent negative information about itself; it pays for inserts in leading European newspapers; it signs cooperation agreements with media organisations and holds media forums; and it limits access to its market to affect media, film and academic content.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies