China: Beyond the Headlines

Curious Minds Online Course


Hot Docs at Home Thu, Sep 30, 2021 12:00 AM
Streaming on Hot Docs at Home Available Now
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From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of ruthless plutocrats and fiercely dedicated students, ruled by an autocratic Party imposing its will on the world. But the world’s largest country defies stereotypes and easy categorization. In this Curious Minds debut, Dr. Diana Fu, a dynamic young scholar at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, takes us beyond the headlines, offering a revelatory portrait of one of the world’s most fascinating countries during a moment of profound transformation. Building on years of scholarship and field work in the country, she’ll provide a highly entertaining and accessible account of China’s rise into a global superpower—and what it means for people all around the world.

Led by Diana Fu, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto and non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.  Dr. Fu's research and commentary has appeared in the BBC, CBC, The Economist, The Globe & Mail, and The New York Times, among others. She was host of the TVO series, China Here and Now, and author of the award-wining book, Mobilizing without the Masses. She holds a D. Phil in Politics from Oxford University.

Course registration: $49 (Hot Docs Members: $33, $27, Free)

Curious Minds Speaker Series sponsored by

Hollywood Suite

The six lectures in this series are now available to stream. You can access each lecture at your leisure by clicking on links in your confirmation email, or by visiting your My Shows page.


Lecture 1: From Rags to Riches: How China Became a Global Juggernaut
Once a poor, developing country where meat and rice had to be rationed, China has become the world’s second-largest economy and a geo-political power. As Dr. Fu discusses this startling transformation, and the unique role played by the Chinese Communist Party, she’ll lay a foundation for understanding the social and political landscape of contemporary China.

Lecture 2: From the Migrant Masses to the "Crazy Rich": The Faces of Contemporary China
As its wealth and influence rise, China has become a country of stark extremes. While the Western observers delight in portraits of the “Crazy Rich” in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, an underclass of over 280 millon migrant workers form the country’s backbone—and, arguably, the backbone of the world economy, too. In this lecture, Dr. Fu reveals the fascinating stories and subcultures of the people that make our iPhones, iPads, and computers.
Lecture 3: Life Under Xi Jinping: How China Thinks About Rights
How do citizens advocate for social change in China? And how does the Chinese government respond to their efforts—especially now, under Xi Jinping, widely considered the most powerful Chinese leader in decades? As Dr. Fu surveys the fundamental differences between China's political and legal system and the ones in Western democracies, she’ll recount the efforts of ordinary Chinese citizens to protest and petition their government. 

Lecture 4: China in the Digital Age
China has almost a billion internet users, most of them between the ages of 18 and 30. In this lecture, Dr. Fu explores the development of China’s rapidly evolving cyber sphere and the tug-of-war that’s playing out between these youthful “netizens” and a government that seeks to censor information and online commentary. Can the internet bring about political change in the world’s largest country? 

Lecture 5: Boundary Pushers: China’s Gender Politics and Youth Culture
In this lecture, Dr. Fu examines two populations that have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable within China’s domestic society. She begins by examining the social progress and constraints that women in China have experienced under Communist rule, then examines the robust tradition of youth activism in Hong Kong and the recent events that may lead to its demise.

Lecture 6: A Formidable World Power: China's Reach in the World
Where past Chinese leaders directed their focus inwards, seeking to create a harmonious society within the country’s borders, Xi Jinping has promoted the “Chinese Dream”—an outward-looking model of collective prosperity. What are the goals and motives behind China’s active, increasingly aggressive, role on the global stage? And what does it mean for people in other parts of the world—and Canada in particular? In her final lecture, Dr. Fu assesses the big questions that may determine the fate of a country now widely consider the century’s superpower.

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