Statement of Principles

Tensions are mounting between the United States, China, and the world. Critical China scholars have an increasingly important role to play in analyzing this phenomenon. There are many who write from a left position, and we share many of their concerns. In the spirit of solidarity, we seek to add our voices as academics who have long engaged with China and Chinese people. We are committed to the following principles:

We reject all pressure to support the nationalist agenda of any state, and we especially reject ethno-nationalism wherever it appears.

Our loyalty is not to any state but to the cause of human wellbeing and environmental sustainability, and our responsibility is to offer analysis and to expose the causes of injustice wherever they appear.

We recognize that the roots and causes of injustice in our world lie in political and economic systems—including capitalism, authoritarianism, imperialism, racism, and patriarchy—that transcend national boundaries. These systems historically have shaped the world we now inhabit.

We oppose the dangerous rhetoric that demonizes the PRC and its citizens, and subjects those of Asian appearance to racist prejudice. At the same time, we recognize the justice of movements that resist oppression by the Chinese state, and we stand in solidarity with political activists fighting for labor, gender, ethnic, religious, and environmental justice. We refuse to allow one priority to outweigh the other.

Equally, we oppose the PRC’s dangerous tendency to stigmatize people in China with foreign connections, and we are particularly aware of how the state uses the charge of “foreign ties” to demonize those critical of its policies.

The revolutionary experience in China represents a mixed legacy. We are committed to a critical lens that accounts for the diverse effects and legacies of China’s modern revolutionary history in the areas of economic justice, political freedom, social organization, and environmental sustainability.

Based on these principles, we are scholars committed to working in solidarity with others, against the tensions that threaten to rip us apart, to investigate the conditions of possibility for radical political thinking and activism. We aim to be a critical resource for activists developing their own projects that address these structural conflicts, rather than giving in to the racism and nationalism that discourage us from seeing systems that oppress us all.

Viral Politics: Left Perspectives on the World and China

A two-part roundtable held electronically June 18 and July 2, 7:00-8:30 EDT

Presented by Critical China Scholars and co-sponsored by Verso Books, Haymarket Books, n+1, Made in China Journal, The Nation, New Politics, Spectre, positions, the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Justice is Global Alliance. [Facebook event page]

The COVID-19 pandemic has become the latest locus of growing US-China tensions, opening crucial conversations for the international left related to the principles of anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-racism, and anti-imperialism. As critical scholars of China, we will take up these issues in a two-part webinar series.

We begin with the questions: How can we move from scapegoating China to developing an analysis of capitalism, authoritarianism and imperialism as global systems that produce crises and injustices? How can we address proliferating social inequalities, political oppression, and environmental degradation amid geopolitical tensions? How do we counter China-bashing abroad without sidelining the legitimate concerns of Chinese citizens and social movements in China? How do we address rising xenophobia, racism, and nationalism in pandemic times? And, what is the role of China scholars in producing critical knowledge and engaging with political questions?

Session 1: Against Capitalism and Imperialism (Thur, June 18, 7-9 p.m. EDT)

[Audio File]

Moderator: Rebecca Karl, NYU


  • Yige Dong, University at Buffalo, SUNY
  • Eli Friedman, Cornell University
  • Andrew Liu, Villanova University
  • Isabella Weber, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Jake Werner, Boston University
  • Zhun Xu, Howard University

Session 2: Against Racism and Nationalism (Thur, July 2, 7-9 p.m. EDT)

[Audio File]

Moderator: Aminda Smith, Michigan State University


  • David Brophy, University of Sydney
  • Fabio Lanza, University of Arizona
  • Alex Lee, University of Sydney
  • Kevin Lin, Hong Kong University
  • Sigrid Schmalzer, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Shan Windscript, University of Melbourne