China and the Western Left




On Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 the Institute for Social Ecology hosted author and activist Brian Hioe to discuss the topic of China and the Western Left.

In a period of rising tensions between the US and China, some on the Left now speak of a “new Cold War.” But if this is the case, a phenomenon from the original Cold War has also made a reappearance – that of “tankies,” with some western leftists idealizing China as a socialist country that can counter global US hegemony or even offer an “ecological civilization” committed to a project of tackling global climate change. Of course, this narrative ignores harsh domestic repression within China of civil society groups including feminists, LGBTQ activists, and labor organizers, as well as China being one of the world’s most unequal societies. Part of this romanticization of China by western leftists occurs due to lack of knowledge about the region, as well as the desire to hold up an idealized alternative to American empire, much as occurred with the Soviet Union. This talk will explore a wide variety of issues related to China and left politics, from uncritical campist forms of “anti-imperialism” to how leftists worldwide can practice solidarity with current movements in China.

Brian Hioe is one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in Taiwan in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. He is also a freelance journalist and translator.