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The State, Market, and China’s Anti-Covid-19 Mobilization (Yan Hairong, Hong Kong Polytechnic Univ. & Barry Sautman, Hong Kong Univ. of Science & Technology)
Thursday, April 29, 2021, 08:00pm - 09:30pm
Contact Louisa Schein (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

This talk is co-sponsored by Rutgers Global-China Office. It is open to the public, but registration is required. Click here to register.



Shortly after the initial outbreak of Coronavirus in China, the Chinese state took unprecedented measures. At present, China’s Covid-19 death rate is 3 per million population, far below the top 10 countries whose death rates range between 789-1337 per million. How do we understand China’s mobilization against Covid-19 in the larger context of the healthcare commodification and reform in China? It has been known that doctor-patient disputes and conflicts have become a social issue in the process of the health care reform. Against this background, how do we evaluate the role of the Chinese state? How have medical staff and ordinary people participated in the mobilization against Covid-19? 

The talk will address these questions and argue that decommodification of treatment for Covid-19 patients, as well as social mobilization from above and below are key to China’s effective fight against the pandemic. However, whether and how this experience will impact on further healthcare reform in China is still uncertain.  Globally, a Yellow Peril racialization of the pandemic has grown. We suggest that critiquing and overcoming this racialization needs to be part of the global effort to fight the pandemic.  A starting point for countering racialization is the realization that the rejection of the way in which non-Western countries, especially China, mobilized against the virus, reflects a political and racial bias. 


YAN Hairong teaches at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her intellectual interests include China-Africa links, agrarian change, collective and cooperative rural economy, and rural-urban migration. She is the author of New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China (Duke University Press, 2008) and has co-authored with Barry Sautman East Mountain Tiger, West Mountain Tiger: China, Africa, the West and “Colonialism” and, in Chinese, China in Africa: Discourse and Practices (Beijing: shehui kexue chubanshe, 2017). Her most recent works include Agrarian Marxism (co-edited with Michael Levien, Michael Watts, Routledge, 2018), Agrarian Changes in China (Brill, in press) and “Mode Switching:  the State, Market, and Anti-Covid-19 Shadow of Socialism in China” (Dialectical Anthropology, 2020).

Barry SAUTMAN, a political scientist and lawyer at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, has worked on ethnic politics in China, including ethnic policies, the Tibet and Xinjiang issues, and relations between Hong Kong people and mainland Chinese. He co-authored with Yan Hairong, Localists and ‘Locusts’ in Hong Kong: Creating a Yellow-Red Peril Discourse (Baltimore: University of Maryland Series in Contemporary Asian Studies, 2015). They also research China/Africa political economy and interactions between Chinese and Africans, most recently publishing 中国在非洲: 话语与现实 (China in Africa: Discourses and Reality) (北京: 社会科学文献出版社, 2017).


Location  Zoom (registration required)