Disturbances in Heaven
Disturbances in heaven : a year of Chinese labour, civil society and rights. Edited by Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin, Nicholas Loubere. Canberra : ANU press, 2017. (« Made in China yearbook series » ; 2016). ISBN (print): 978-1-7604-6107-2. ISBN (online): 978-1-7604-6108-9. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22459/MIC.02.2017
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 was the year of the fire monkey. What better character than Sun Wukong to inspire this inaugural volume of the Made in China Yearbook? In this past year, Chinese workers and activists from all walks of life have struggled under heightened repression by the Chinese party-state, showing remarkable endurance even under these dire circumstances. Through their battles, however small or short-lived, they repeatedly challenged the message of ‘harmony’ put forward by the Chinese authorities, creating ‘disturbances’ in the imaginary heaven engineered by the party-state. All of this is nothing other than proof of the survival of the monkey spirit in Chinese society. Even when trapped under a mountain of repression, or in terrible pain due to the curse of the magic headband of state control, the monkey still manages to briefly wriggle free, reminding us that not all is well, that not everything is predictable.