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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Sun Yat-sen becomes first President of Republic of China

This Day in World History
Nearly four dozen delegates gathered in Nanjing, a city in east-central China. Representing seventeen Chinese provinces, they were supporters of the Wuhan Revolution against the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. On December 25, Sun Yat-sen, the spearhead behind the revolution, returned to China after sixteen years of exile to join the meetings. Four days later, he was elected the provisional president of the Republic of China.

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America’s next frontier: Burma

It all began in November of 2010 when the military regime decided to release opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi who, since 1989, had been on house arrest under charges of attempting to divide the military.

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China Clipper makes first trans-Pacific flight

This Day in World History
Holding more than 110,000 pieces of mail, the mammoth plane that weighed more than 52,000 pounds and had a 130-foot wingspan lifted from the waters of San Francisco Bay. The plane, the China Clipper, was beginning the first flight across the Pacific Ocean on November 22, 1935—just eight years after Charles Lindbergh had flown alone across the Atlantic.

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Birth of Dangun, legendary founder of Korea

This Day in World History – According to Korean tradition, Dangun, the founder of Korea’s first dynasty, was born on October 3, more than 4,000 years ago. The legend of his birth indicates why this king is so important. Hwanung, the son of the king of heaven, wanted to live among men rather than among the gods. He came down the earth with 3,000 followers and settled in what is now North Korea, ruling the humans who lived in the area.

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Chinese philosopher Kongfuzi born

This Day in World History – Few people in history can justly claim the impact of Kongfuzi (often called Confucius), whose teachings have influenced hundreds of millions of people across Asia. Like so many important figures in the world of ideas, the historical Kongfuzi is an elusive figure. While precise date of the sage’s birth is unknown, the Chinese have long celebrated September 28, and to this day, members of the Kong family still live in the family compound in Qufu, China.

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Dancing in shackles

Beginning in the early 1980s, the structure of Chinese media changed. Newspapers, magazines, and television stations received cuts in their government subsidies and were driven to enter the market and to earn revenue. In 1979 they were permitted to sell advertising, and in 1983 they were allowed to retain the profits from the sale of ads. Because people were eager for information and businesses wanted to advertise their products, profits were good and the number of publications grew rapidly.

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The long, strange journey

From the Long March to the massive, glittering spectacle of the Beijing Summer Olympics’ opening ceremony in 2008, what a long, strange journey it has been for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). On July 1, the party celebrated its 90th birthday, marking the occasion with everything from a splashy, star-studded cinematic tribute to the party’s early years to a “praise concert” staged by two of the country’s officially sanctioned Christian groups.

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Rising powers, rising rivals in East Asia?

By Rana Mitter
This week, the foreign ministers of Japan and China shook hands in public in Beijing, pledging better relations in the years to come. It was a reminder to westerners that we still don’t know nearly enough about the relationship between the world’s second and third biggest economies (Japan and China having recently switched places, so that Beijing now holds the no. 2 spot, riding hard on the heels of the US).

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Mao’s (red) star is on the rise

What kinds of historical echoes sound loudest in today’s China? And which past leaders deserve the most credit — and blame — for setting the country on its current trajectory? These are timely questions as the Chinese Communist Party celebrates it’s 90th birthday today. For in China, as elsewhere, milestone moments are fitting times for backward glances and often accompanied by symbolic gestures that invite scrutiny.

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Lead pollution and industrial opportunism in China

By Tee L. Guidotti

Mengxi Village, in Zhejiang province, in eastern coastal China, is an obscure rural hamlet not far geographically but far removed socially from the beauty, history, and glory of Hangzhou, the capital. Now it is the unlikely center of a an environmental health awakening in which citizens took direct action by storming the gates of a lead battery recycling plant that has caused lead poisoning among both children and adults in the village.

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Orwell and Huxley at the Shanghai World’s Fair

Tweet Who, we sometimes ask, at the dinners and debates of the intelligentsia, was the 20th century’s more insightful prophet — Aldous Huxley or George Orwell? Each is best known for his dystopian fantasy — Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984 — and both feared where modern technology might lead, for authorities and individuals alike. […]

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“Our Severest Crisis since World War II”: the earthquake and tsunami of 2011

By Andrew Gordon

On the afternoon of March 11, 2011, people in Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake in the recorded history of the archipelago, and the fifth most powerful ever recorded. Measured at magnitude 9, with an epicenter just off the coast of Miyagi prefecture in northeast Japan, this earthquake unleashed one hundred times the destructive force of the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, which took well over one hundred thousand lives. Thanks in large part to strict building codes and technologies designed to allow high-rise buildings to absorb the shocks, the destruction of homes and offices was relatively modest in proportion to the immensity of the earthquake.

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Five lessons from Japan

By Anthony Scioli

Recently Japan’s 77 year old Emperor Akihito implored his people “not to abandon hope”. This may have struck some Westerners as odd since Japan is an Eastern country largely dominated by Buddhism and Shinto, faith traditions that many associate with mindfulness, acceptance and renunciation rather than hope for the future, transformation, or worldly pursuits. In fact, it is not uncommon to find Westerners who believe that “hope” does not even exist in the East. For many American intellectuals, particularly

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Hachi the Dog, Debt, and Japanese Language

By Lisa Shoreland
Despite its reputation for outlandish costumes and outrageous practical jokes, traditional Japanese culture is one of nearly unmatched gravity and obsession with honor. Although tourists can easily learn simple phrases like “Thank you” (arigatō) and “Excuse me” (sumimasen), serious Japanese language learners benefit from understanding the history of the nation’s shame culture.

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Dispatch from Tokyo

Last week we received a message from Miki Matoba, Director of Global Academic Business at OUP Tokyo, confirming that her staff is safe and well. This was a relief to hear, and also a reminder that although many of us are tied to the people of Japan in some way, our perspective of the human impact is relatively small. So I asked Miki if she wouldn’t mind sharing some of her experiences, and she kindly agreed.

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