Tankies! with Brian Hioe, New Bloom Magazine
Just Andy this time, with a Thursday edition bonus episode, in which I talk with Brian Hioe of New Bloom, a bilingual online magazine with radical analysis of Taiwan and East Asia.
On Monday, New Bloom published an explainer essay on the very confusing phenomenon of “tankies,” aka people who argue that the true leftist position is to support the Chinese Communist Party as a check on US imperialism. Most famously, tankies denounce the Hong Kong protests as bourgeois and right-wing, as puppets of US empire.
Their statements are at once funny and depressing, amusing and exhausting. I think Brian and I agree, though, that they are worth taking seriously because they reflect a very real set of tensions in global politics—with few clear solutions.
Whom do we “side with” in an increasingly closed-off, nationalistic world? Must critics of US foreign policy — and the long history of Euro-American colonialism and imperialism — choose other states to support instead? For a Gen Z critical of free-market neoliberalism, what “actually existing” alternatives are there to global capitalism?
The New Bloom piece explores these questions by examining the mysterious Qiao Collective, whose members ostensibly belong to the left-nationalist Chinese diaspora. When it comes to the Asian diaspora (though not unique to it), there is the always fun, extra ingredient of confused identity and an unfulfilled sense of belonging, heightened by local xenophobic rhetoric.
Given these factors, Brian fears that tankie ideology may continue to spread.
Issues we touch on:
Are Hong Kong’s protests “right-wing” if their citizens espouse xenophobia?
Is the category “diaspora,” or huaqiao 華僑, good or bad?
The Orientalism and self-orientalizing of tankies
Tankies and US Republicans as bizarro mirror images of one another
Is there potential for common dialogue? With tankies or with the everyday people of China?
Today (June 25) marks the 70-year anniversary of the start of the Korean War. KAP SEOL reminds us, “The US Didn’t Bring Freedom to South Korea — Its People Did” (Jacobin).
A developing story worth monitoring is the border dispute between China and India, about one week old now. In India, there is now a call to boycott Chinese goods (most recently by hotels (SCMP), but analysts in India are skeptical if it’s even possible (The Quint). Worth paying attention to, if only because of the recent calls by other countries to decouple from China.
Under-the-radar news: the Trump administration this week exploited the coronavirus pandemic to extend a ban on multiple visas into the US, from “high-skilled” (H-1B) to seasonal labor (H-2B) and other categories. Early analysis here (Common Dreams).
Part of the hopeful wave of primary victories this week, Yuh-Line Niou successfully defended her seat against challenger Grace Lee in the Democratic primary for New York’s 65th Assembly District (including Wall Street and Chinatown). Beyond the superficial similarities of two Asian-American women running in the Democratic party, the two candidates represented different constituencies and political visions, a microcosm of the ongoing fight between liberals and progressives within the party (The Indypendent):I’m a constituent in New York’s 65th Assembly District (lower Manhattan), and I took a closer look at the primary race between Yu-Line Niou and Grace Lee. Here are some opinions/a thread. 1/12
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