“You Can’t Arrest Us All!”

China’s Feminists Are Betraying Big BrotherEmily Walz

Rewind to early 2015, Beijing. Groping on the crowded subway system has the city government considering women-only cars in an effort to prevent sexual harassment (a marginal improvement over its 2013 plan to fix the problem by telling women to cover up). A month and a half later, five young feminists are planning to distribute anti-sexual harassment stickers on public transit for International Women’s Day. They never get the chance. Instead, they are swept up and brought to a detention center in Beijing. The women’s names are Li Maizi, Zheng Churan, Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, and Wang Man, but when the state locks them up, they are reborn as the Feminist Five. The sudden crackdown marks a political tipping point: feminist activism in China has now crossed from the realm of the officially tolerated to the politically dangerous.


End of Empire

Emily Walz reviews Imperial Twilight by Stephen R. Platt

The outlines of the Opium War are familiar to many: from centuries ago, the Chinese had tea. The British, with their superior navy, wanted to trade opium for it. The meeting of these two sides brought about a literal trade war in the 1830s, forcing a treaty from China that allowed the opium trade to flourish and allowed foreigners to live in port cities like Shanghai. This series of events beget the reluctant “opening” of China, and set a pattern in which foreign powers would use violence to wrest concessions from China. Historian Stephen R. Platt’s newest work, Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age, is the story of how Britain came to believe it could “demand peace by force of arms,” as read the inscription on one medal designed to commemorate what would become the first of two so-called Opium Wars.