NLC examines The China Dream for its new series

By Cecilia Nasmith

The China Dream is the theme for the autumn 2018 Northumberland Learning Connection program, which runs from Oct. 25 through Nov. 25.
The China Dream refers to the country's four-part plan – a country that is strong, civilized, harmonious and beautiful. The challenge is to create this new reality based on ancient values of respect for culture, family and nature while harnessing technology. The question must also arise whether there is a role for the manipulation of patriotism and the power of an authoritarian state.

The season's presentation is a three-part offering – a series of Thursday talks at the Columbus Community Centre in Cobourg from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., a series of Friday discussions at the Port Hope Public Library from 9 to 11 a.m., and a series of special events in other venues.

Talks kick off with the Oct. 25 presentation Xi Jinping and His Party. Juan Wang of McGill University will discuss the rise of President Xi (considered by many the new emperor of China). His father was a close advisor of Mao Zedong, though he was subsequently purged from leadership. The speaker will talk about his rise and his agenda for the Communist Party and for China.

A Not-So-Delicate Balance is the Nov. 1 program. Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's ambassador to China from 2012 through 2016, discusses the new China and its implications for Canada. Under Xi, China has developed unrivalled international trade opportunities, become the world's banker and emerged as a cyber-security leader. Some western nations are becoming uncomfortable, however, with China's domestic realities that include electronic surveillance and labour-standards and human-rights violations.

Money, Morality and China's New Rich is the Nov. 8 program. John Osburg of the University of Rochester will examine the social, moral and spiritual impacts of the largest economic boom in human history, with China having gone from being one of the most equal societies in the world to one of the most unequal in just two decades.

What Are Human Rights in China is the Nov. 15 program. Sida Liu of the University of Toronto traces the history of human rights in China from 1949 and how this concept is interpreted by China's party-state – and contestd by activists and the general public in everyday struggles.

The Big Picture - Contemporary Chinese Art and Its Dissidents is a look by Yi Gu of the University of Toronto at the many stages and faces of contemporary Chinese art, which changed greatly from its inception in the 1980s and continues to evolve in unexpected directions (at a time when Chinese artists are seen as either defiant activists or opportunists catering to market demands).

The series of discussions begins Oct. 26 with Migrant Workers and Minorities. Wang discusses the government's dilemma in managing two population groups – the 250-million domestic migrant workers who have moved into cities from rural areas and the 100-million ethnic minorities. The result is often social and political instability.

Is There Any Chance for a Green China on Nov. 2 brings Graeme Lang of City University of Hong Kong to detail the struggles that have come with China's rapid economic development in terms of air, water and soil pollution. Lang will also advance some predictions for the future.

Gender Inequality and “Leftover Women” on Nov. 9 is Osburg's look at women in post-Mao China. While there are more self-made female billionaires in China than anywhere else, these social and economic gains have been accompanied by new forms of discrimination and inequality.

Advocates and Suspects on Nov. 16 refers to the 2015 round-up of more than 200 activist lawyers and their characterization in Chinese state media as troublemakers and part of a major criminal gang. Liu explores their work and stories, as well as the politics of punishment and crime in China.

The Beautiful Countryside on Nov. 23 is the name of the recent rural-revival movement the Xi regime launched. It was quickly embraced by architects and public intellectuals. Gu examines the heated debate over what the concept of beauty might mean, in rural China and in our environmentally endangered world in general.

The special events organized in conjunction with Northumberland Learning Connection series are always a diverse lot. This season is no exception.

A series of China movies at The Loft – Last Train Home plus two feature films, will be shown on three dates at 7 p.m. Check out the cinematic offerings Nov. 6, 13 and 20. The Loft is located upstairs at 201 Division St., Cobourg, and tickets are $10.

Two field trips are planned.

On Oct. 28, a bus leaves at 10 a.m. to take participants to Markham for a Shanghai Dim Sum meal and a chance to learn more about Chinese food (the price of lunch is not included in tickets for this excursion).

On Nov. 4, there's a 2 p.m. program called So You Want To Play The Urhu. Members of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra (now celebrating its 25th anniversary) will introduce participants to traditional Chinese instruments and play short selections of classical and contemporary Chinese music.

In recent seasons, Karin Wells has moderated various panels. For this season, Wells will be on hand for a Nov. 25 panel discussion of Everyday Life In China at 2 p.m. A contingent of recent immigrants from China will discuss such issues as school and family life, the impact of the famous one-child policy and the growth of domestic surveillance.

Tickets are available through the Victoria Hall Concert Hall box office – in person (they are located on the second floor east at Victoria Hall, 55 King St. W., Cobourg), on-line ( and by phone (905-372-2210 or 1-855-372-2210).

Until Oct. 25, two special deals are offered – get 10 pre-selected tickets to Thursday and/or Friday events for $170 or five for $90. Otherwise, single tickets for any Thursday or Friday event (or one of the other special events) are $20. Tickets can also be purchased at the door if available.

For more information, or to confirm times and locations, visit