The chance to understand China is passing
When Wasserstrom, the US-China specialist, went to graduate school in the early 1980s, it was normal for authors on China to not have recently traveled to the country, which for decades had been sealed to foreigners. "There was a whole period when the major works in the field in English were produced by people who did their research in Taiwan, or interviewed refugees or emigres in Hong Kong," Wasserstrom says. "Just as in some ways, Xi Jinping is a throwback to China being a place with a personality cult," what is occurring now in the academic space "is a kind of throwback to another time," he adds, as scholars feel less willing to travel there and are finding it harder to access sensitive sites and groups when they do make it in.
Lev Nachman, a PhD candidate at UC Irvine and visiting scholar at National Taiwan University, says undertaking research in China is now a "much more complicated goal" than it was five or six years ago. "A lot of the new advice we are getting, as graduate students, is to do a project that does not require you to necessarily do fieldwork in China," he says, because access to archives and interviewees is difficult. "And now we just have to imagine that the difficulty has been turned up to 10, along with a risk of personal safety."
Last year, Trump issued an executive order to cancel within China and Hong Kong the Fulbright exchange program, which sends some of the brightest US minds around the world -- a particularly striking move given the first Fulbright agreement with any nation was signed in Nanjing in eastern China in 1947 -- before the Communist takeover of the mainland -- to educate Chinese students in the US.
With fewer academics willing to travel to China, and those who do make it after the coronavirus pandemic encountering a more closed nation, the result could be fewer Western minds reporting on and studying China firsthand at a time when, arguably, the world has never had a greater need to understand the country.
Wasserstrom adds that perhaps the newest wrinkle in this China story is it is no longer possible to peer into the mainland from Hong Kong, where academic study and freedom of speech has also been targeted in the past year under the national security law.
Recently, Baptist University in Hong Kong canceled a photography exhibition, which featured images of the local pro-democracy demonstrations, due to "security concerns. Books by democracy figures have been removed from public libraries, now deemed illegal under the security law. "I used to assume that if I couldn't go to the mainland, I would just go to Hong Kong more often," says Wasserstrom. "And now I feel that actually Hong Kong isn't safe, either."
--- > di bawah kekaisaran paman xi, PKT kini semakin rajin, tuk menjadikan beberapa WNA dr kaum bule barat, sbg sandera politik dgn berbagai alasan yg disengaja n di buat2......