China's impressive rise over the past few decades has attracted widespread attention. Quite apart from the remarkable impact China has had in the global economy, the world's fastest-growing country has greatly changed the ways in which Chinese communities inside and outside China, as well as the rest of the world, perceive Chinese culture. The preexisting discourses about “Chineseness” as being defined by race or by culture have been heatedly contested, significantly through the interplay between the narratives of China’s past, the present-day prosperity, and the imagined future.
“China” is defined broadly as including people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora. Throughout history, the notion of Chinese culture and identity has been a complex issue, as similarities among peoples from diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages and religions are as significant as differences. How Chinese people from vast geographically diverse backgrounds identify themselves is usually always in-between a legitimization of the nation-state as a unified concept and a subscription to the idea of 'Chinese' by way of a local identity. The growing impact of China’s re-emergence as a world economic power, as well as the increasing mobility of Chinese communities within the new regional, national, and transnational settings, has resulted in both new individual and collective experiences, consequently creating a new sense of belongingness, distance, and imagination.
Within mainland China, the migration of millions of people between cities has created significant social transformations in recent years. The unprecedented urbanization, migration and many other related processes of the nation’s fast development have produced a country harboring a substantial change of cultural sensibilities. Inasmuch as identities are built around an individual sense of belongingness and collective-relational experience, the present dynamic interactions between new migrants and the hosting cities have reshaped millions of Chinese beyond their original definitions of “Chineseness”. Ethnicity and civic commonalities are reaffirmed through China's policy which is centered on unity and harmony; regardless, new subjectivities have emerged through symbolic ties to the new immigrant’s hometown and personal memories. Against the backdrop of globalization, the success story of “Made in China” has created the biggest wave of migration in human history, which intensified a radical change in how Chinese inside China regard themselves, and how they are regarded by the “others” within the country.
In Hong Kong, an increasing sense of the city's cultural consciousness has reflected a new political arena after the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China in 1997. In addition to the closer social and economic ties, the border between Hong Kong and China is enveloped by and imbued with crisscrossed cultural flows, constructed not only at the level of discourse, but also integrated into the fabric of the “Hong Kong Chinese's” everyday life. The vibrant flow of people, goods and capital between Hong Kong and China has not only bought numerous opportunities to Hong Kong, it has also prompted a rethink for many Hong Kong people’s existing beliefs, norms and values. Issues such as civic and democratic development of the city have been widely discussed and manifested in the action of various social movements in Hong Kong. Similar to Hong Kong, there has been a strengthening of economic and political relations between Taiwan and China in the last decade. While Taiwan and China coexist and develop side by side, with increasing cross-strait exchanges in trade and tourism, the fast-changing economic and geopolitical landscape has prompted Taiwanese to revise the way they think about questions of identity and the evolution of identity that unfold throughout history within the present-day conditions.
For members of the Chinese community elsewhere, China’s rise has also challenged the very concept of diaspora. Waves of Chinese emigration have happened throughout history; the diverse Chinese migrant communities in the West and in Asia have not only reproduced a different Chinese experience, they also subverted the notion of national-geographic boundaries and histories. While many overseas and new-generation Chinese have “returned home” for various opportunities in China, the back-and-forth movement between their homelands and adopted countries has further complicated the previous linear understanding of diaspora. Such a change has also greatly affected how we see the globalized framework of citizenship and power. China Remixed Initiative endeavors to explore divides, boundaries and spaces between different Chinese communities. Through the presentation of artist films from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and beyond, this project aims to investigate fragments of histories, personal experiences and global themes. By assembling a variety of regional, temporal and artistic perspectives, the various screening programs, talks, and exhibitions will re-interpret the experience of the here and now, look into the potentially excluded moving images and make visible, fragments of experience that disrupt time, space and continuity.
Dr. Isaac Leung