The Little Red Podcast

The Little Red Podcast: interviews and chat celebrating China beyond the Beijing beltway from the University of Melbourne’s Horwood Studios. Hosted by Graeme Smith, China studies academic at the Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and Louisa Lim, former China correspondent for the BBC and NPR, now with the Centre for Advancing Journalism at Melbourne University.

Many thanks to Chinoiresie for their generous support.

Follow us @limlouisa and @GraemeKSmith, and find show notes at https://www.facebook.com/LittleRedPodcast/

Episodes

  • Chose Your Own Dystopia Part Two: Cashing in on Social Credit

    40 mins 7secs

    By 2020, less than half a year from now, a social credit scheme will cover people and companies across China, “allowing the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” It’s long been assumed the Chinese state would take the lead, but favored companies will doubtless profit from a database that will house every citizen’s tax records, criminal history, traffic offenses, family background and marriage details.  There are signs these companies are likely to export a surveillance-for-profit regime to other regimes keen to keep a close eye on their people. To ask whether China’s future looks like Lei Feng, Black Mirror or Dave Egger’s The Circle, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Gladys Pak Lei Chong and David Kurt Herold of Hong Kong Baptist University.

    Photo credit: Kevin Hong (https://www.kevinhong.com/)

  • Hong Kong’s Dirty Little Secret: Is One Country Two Systems Dead?

    45mins 45secs

    Our third Hong Kong emergency episode comes in the wake of the storming of the territory’s Legislative Council on the 22nd anniversary of its return to mainland China. Louisa reports from the floor of the Legco chamber as it is occupied and vandalized by hundreds of demonstrators, all risking hefty jail terms. With Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam still refusing to scrap the extradition bill which inspired millions of Hong Kongers to take to the streets, the territory could be set for further waves of radical action and repression. Protestors at the scene, as well as activists Johnson Yeung and Kong Tsunggan, legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, and former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong Anson Chan join us to ask what the endgame for Hong Kong might be.

  • Sing Hallelujah: The Miracle of Hong Kong’s March

    49 mins 17 secs

    We’re bringing you a second emergency podcast from Hong Kong, which has seen more record protests over the weekend. According to organisers, two million people—nearly one-third of Hong Kong residents—marched on Sunday, despite the Hong Kong government’s promise to shelve its unpopular extradition bill.  With public faith in its institutions shattered and a pattern of popular mobilisation and radical action in train, we’ll be asking if Hong Kong is now governable at all.  Louisa reports from the protest frontlines, and we’ll be hearing calls for more democracy from Civic Party legislator Alvin Yeung and Cardinal Joseph Zen, the 87-year-old cardinal of the Catholic Church.

  • Hong Kong’s Darkest Hour

    44mins 51secs

    We bring you an emergency podcast from Hong Kong, one day after extraordinary police violence saw 79 people injured by baton charges, rubber bullets and over 150 rounds of tear gas. This dark turn comes only a few days after one million Hong Kongers—one in seven residents—took to the streets to protest proposed legal amendments that would allow citizens to be extradited to mainland China. Louisa reports from the protest frontlines and talks to Antony Dapiran, author of City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong as well as Jeffrey Ngo, chief researcher of the political group Demosisto.

    Photo credit: Louisa Lim 2019
    Podcast

  • Tiananmen’s Final Secret

    42mins 34secs

    Tuesday June 4 marks the 30th anniversary of the deadly crackdown ordered by Deng Xiaoping, which killed hundreds – maybe thousands – of people in Beijing and Chengdu. While the campaign to erase all memory of the event continues, explosive new information has emerged in the lead up to the anniversary.  It reveals new details about resistance to the crackdown among the military and how the Communist Party managed the aftermath of Tiananmen. Former student leaders Wang Dan and Zhou Fengsuo as well as the publisher of The Last Secret, Bao Pu and Joseph Torigian of American University join us in this episode to discuss these revelations and what life is like in exile for the student leaders.

  • Choose your own Dystopia Part One: Social Media and Surveillance Capitalism

    42 mins 11 secs

    With Chinese citizens’ lives increasingly coded into data streams, the question of who owns this data and how it gets used is largely up to private companies. They control massive volumes of personal information and are tasked by Xi Jinping with everything from astroturfing public opinion to monitoring one-to-one chat in real time. As these companies expand beyond China’s borders, their operations and relationship with the Chinese state bear further scrutiny. To shed light on how China’s tech giants do the Party’s work, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Fu Kingwa from Hong Kong University, Masashi Crete-Nishihata from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Blake Miller of London School of Economics and Political Science, formerly of Dartmouth College.

    Photo credit: Weiboscope 2016

  • Resignation Syndrome? Democracy and Jail in Post-Umbrella Hong Kong

    52mins 38secs

    Hate mail, death threats and shadowy surveillance are facts of life for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists, five years after the Umbrella movement brought a million people onto the streets calling for greater democracy. Since then, 48 legal cases have been brought against 32 different activists, often on colonial-era public order offences. Louisa and Graeme are joined by two leaders of the Umbrella Movement to talk about jail, democracy and political repression. They are Chan Kinman, one of the co-founders of Occupy Central, who faces a verdict in his trial with eight others on 8 April, and Nathan Law, the disqualified lawmaker from the Demosisto Party, who is also one of Hong Kong’s first political prisoners.

    Photo credit: AFP/JIJI

  • Leveraged to the Limit: Power Shifts in Xi Jinping’s China

    45mins 19secs

    The Chairman of Everything Xi Jinping has emerged from the annual parliamentary meetings facing a rough year ahead.  China’s economy is growing at its slowest in nearly three decades, amid a massive trade war and spiralling local debt, with rumblings of discontent from delegates about everything from the Belt and Road Initiative to Made in China 2025.  Louisa and Graeme are joined by Andrew Collier of Orient Capital Research and Ryan Manuel of Hong Kong University, who argue that both political and economic decentralisation is underway, laying Xi vulnerable to forces beyond his control.

    Photo credit: Hindustan Times

  • Step Up or Be Overrun: China’s Challenge for the Pacific

    36 mins 18 secs

    The Pacific is seeing a flurry of diplomatic activity: Australia is ‘stepping up’, New Zealand has ordered a ‘Pacific reset’ and even Great Britain is reopening missions in its former Pacific colonies. The reason for their sudden interest is simple: China. If Beijing comes good on $4 billion in aid pledges, it could overtake Canberra as the largest donor to the Pacific. Often missed in this new Great Game are the concerns of Pacific Islanders, looking to make the best of this fresh interest in their blue Pacific. To discuss the Pacific’s China challenge, Graeme and Louisa are joined by Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor, as well as Pacific academics Patrick Matbob and Transform Aquora and former Chinese diplomat, Denghua Zhang.

     

    Photo Credit: Shaun Gessler 2016

  • Hotpot Wars: Tensions bubble in the battle for China’s Culinary Soul

    35 mins 7 secs

    China has been engulfed by a controversy that strikes at the very heart of the nation—forget the South China Sea, rampant human rights abuses, even a looming economic crash. Last month food critic Chua Lam, otherwise known as the Food God, called for the end to the PRC’s most beloved dining craze: hot pot. The backlash has been immense, with enraged Weibo users calling for Chua Lam’s abolition. To discuss whether hotpot is indeed an uncultured blight on China’s rich culinary landscape, cookbook author extraordinaire Fuchsia Dunlop joins Louisa and Graeme.   Also there’s a chance to win a Little Red Podcast mug in our first ever competition.   Snap a pic of the dish you’d like to disappear and send it to us on Twitter or Facebook to be a contender.

  • #XiToo: Chinese Feminism and The Party’s Hyper-Masculine Reboot

    35 min 50 sec

    China is becoming a more unequal place for women, in 2018 slipping for a fifth consecutive year in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap index.  Chairman Mao may have proclaimed that women can hold up half the sky, but the Communist party under Xi Jinping holds a far narrower view of female roles, cracking down on feminist activists and backing traditional values.  The impact is economic too, with research showing that being born female in China has a bigger impact on your earnings than any other variable, including family wealth.  This month, Louisa and Graeme are joined by two experts on the origins of China’s gender divide, Leta Hong Fincher, who’s just published a book called Betraying Big Brother and economist Jane Golley from the Australian National University.

  • Keeping the Faith? Xi’s Deal with the Holy See

    37 mins

    The Vatican and China have signed a deeply controversial agreement on the appointment of bishops, ending the cold war that has frozen ties since 1950. That deep freeze led to schisms between the official and underground churches, with some clergy persecuted for decades and the church refusing to recognise Beijing’s handpicked bishops. But the new agreement has divided the faithful yet again, with some fearing Catholicism is facing calamity as President Xi Jinping tightens control over religion. To explore what’s behind this sudden rapprochement and what it could mean for China’s 12 million Catholics, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Jeremy Clarke, a former Catholic priest who has researched China’s historical relations with the Holy See.