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We are joined by Dr. Jung Chang, author of the best-selling books Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China; Mao: The Unknown Story; and Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China. Dr. Chang discusses Wild Swans, a sweeping narrative about three generations of her family across 20th-century China, and the importance of transmitting firsthand historical knowledge of life under Mao Zedong. She also describes her definitive biography of Mao – which, like Wild Swans, remains banned in China – documenting the carnage under his reign, including the peacetime deaths of an estimated 70 million people. She explores Mao’s cult of personality, changing perceptions of his character and legacy, and Maoism’s resurgence in China today. Dr. Chang then delves into the topic of her newest book, Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China, a group biography of the powerful Soong sisters, including Madame Chiang. She concludes with a reading from her memoir, Wild Swans.
Stories of the Week: A new report covered by Time magazine reveals a shocking lack of Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen-Z Americans surveyed across 50 states – troubling evidence of the dangers of woefully inadequate history instruction. CBS News reports that more Black families, when given the option, are likely to choose remote learning, for a variety of reasons having to do with mistrust of the system and safety concerns.
Bloomberg cable television carried Hong Kong Chief Administrator Carrie Lam in a live press statement, 10 pm ET. Bloomberg repeatedly notes she is speaking in Cantonese, the native regional dialect. This is both normal and notable. The Chinese Communists have made a concerted global effort to promote their dialect to the world as the true tongue, the original lingua franca, if you will. Lam’s words follow some careful, helpful remarks by President Trump.
It seems that both sides in Hong Kong are climbing down a bit, de-escalating. Lam announced her intent to hire international policing experts to beef up the current monitoring group for the Hong Kong police. She talked about building a platform for dialogue. A bit of oil on the troubled waters.
If Hong Kong police lost control, then the current local government would lose credibility. In as much as Beijing does not want to lose that set of facilitators and modulators between Hong Kong and itself, it is still in the Communists’ interest to protect current arrangements. President Trump carefully weighed in on the side of peaceful resolution, tying it to the trade deal during August 18 remarks before Air Force One departure:
Back in college, I worked as a theater usher and I think it was then that I began the practice of reading the credits. I would wait in the back of the theater for people to leave so I could sweep up popcorn and hope for dropped change. You have to wait for the end of the credits for two of my favorite trivia bits, the information about the music and locations. But sometimes you see something else interesting or odd. Now many wait through credits in Marvel and Pixar films for those extras, but I seat through all credits of all films I see in the theater.
The Farewell is a very good film in theaters now (rocking 99% at Rotten Tomatoes) about a family divided. A woman’s children have left China and migrated (one assumes legally) out of the country, one son to Japan and the other to America, New York City.
Rapid migration from China’s countryside to its cities began in 1980. Many of the rural migrants arrived without hukou, or residential permits, making it harder to secure access to education, health care, and other services. The result: the creation of a massive urban underclass in many Chinese cities. Rising tensions in urban areas has led Chinese officials to look to technology for alternative methods of social control, ranging from facial-recognition systems to artificial intelligence.