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Introducing: China’s Future Perfect

China Future Perfect

China’s had an eventful year-and-a-half, and to take a closer look, the Bookworm Literary Festival is presenting a series of panel discussions — 13 in total — that cover this country’s environment, civil society, economy, foreign policy, arts and culture, religion, tech, and more. Our goal is to promote discourse about contemporary Chinese society, culminating in an event that asks: what does China’s “perfect future” look like?

For more information about these events, please see this page. Please be reminded that tickets for all Bookworm Literary Festival events are on sale now online.


Purchase 3 tickets to any China Future Perfect event or events, get 1 free to any China Future Perfect event. This deal cannot be used in conjunction with our other promotions.

To redeem free tickets from online orders, please email the ticket(s) you’d like. Please include your purchase receipt in the email.

All China Future Perfect events on our Events Page are marked with the tag [Future Perfect], and listed chronologically below.


Saturday 12

The Future of Hong Kong noon

Jason Y. Ng, Didi Kirsten Tatlow; moderated by Tom Phillips | The Bookworm | BW12B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Ever since the handover in 1997 – and actually long before that – questions have swirled about the future of Hong Kong. But after the events of the past year and a half, these questions have taken on an urgent tone. At the heart of the matter: how much longer can Deng Xiaoping’s One Country, Two Systems principle survive? Jason Y. Ng, bestselling author of HONG KONG State of Mind and Umbrellas in Bloom, and Beijing-based New York Times writer Didi Kirsten Tatlow, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, will discuss the future of this former British colony. Moderated by Guardian reporter Tom Phillips.

Sunday 13

Journalism with Chinese Characteristics 4pm

David Bandurski, Raymond Zhou; moderated by Marcus Ryder | The Bookworm | BW13D | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Finding sources, verifying facts, sifting truth from hearsay: journalism is hard enough, but doing it in China – for Chinese publications – presents a whole new set of challenges. It’s worth asking: what exactly is journalism in China, especially with so many voices competing for attention and credibility in the digital sphere? Our panelists include David Bandurski, researcher at China Media Project and co-author of Investigative Journalism in China, a book of eight cases on Chinese watchdog journalism; and Raymond Zhou, senior writer for China Daily and longtime film, theater, and culture critic. Moderated by veteran BBC news executive Marcus Ryder, currently Chief International Digital Media Editor for CCTV.

Tuesday 15

War on Pollution 1pm

Anders Hove, Li Yan, Ma Tianjie; moderated by Edward Wong | The Bookworm | BW15B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

China’s rapid industrialization has caused tremendous environmental damage, which in turn has stagnated growth – a 2007 World Bank study concluded that air and water pollution costs China about 4.3 percent annual GDP. Fearing this could lead to social unrest, Premier Li Keqiang declared “war on pollution” in 2013. Two years later, do we see progress, or is this “war” mostly being waged for public perception? Here’s a China environment panel that digs beyond cliché to unveil the problems and challenges at the center of China’s environmental quandary. Featuring Anders Hove, Associate Director for China Research at the Paulson Institute; Li Yan, Deputy Program Director of Greenpeace East Asia; and Ma Tianjie, managing editor in the Beijing office of China Dialogue, a organization specializing in reporting on China’s environment; moderated by New York Times Beijing Bureau Chief Edward Wong.

Saturday 19

Innovation and Imitation in China noon

Christina Larson, Edmond Lococo, Kaiser Kuo | The Bookworm | BW19B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Every sector seeks innovation, but what does it actually entail? From Baidu’s plans for autonomous vehicles to micro-entrepreneurs and their ingenious do-everything apps, innovation is all around us – and yet, limitations also remain very real. Christina Larson, a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek, writes about science, technology, and culture; Edmond Lococo is senior vice president for public relations at ICR, which counsels companies in tech, consumer, and industrial growth; and Kaiser Kuo is director of international communications at Baidu and host of the Sinica podcast.

Sunday 20

Minority Matters: Focus on Ethnicity in Chinese Culture 10am

Li Dan, Sonthar Gyal, Xinran; moderated by Jocelyn Ford | The Bookworm | BW20A | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

China officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups, from the Ewenki of Inner Mongolia (only 30,000) to the majority Han (about 92 percent of the population), who exist in various states of conflict and cooperation. This panel takes a look at some of China’s ethnic issues, including various policies that both protect and erode the customs and traditions of the country’s lesser-known ethnic minorities. This event will be in Chinese with English interpretation. 

Monday 21

Territorial Disputes and Regional Stability 1pm

Moderated by Philip Wen | The Bookworm | BW21B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Contested territories, uneasy alliances, energy pacts, strategic differences… China’s relationship with its neighbors has never been more closely scrutinized, and it’s the focus of this panel discussion, featuring foreign correspondents who make a living covering Beijing’s every move. Moderated by Philip Wen, China correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Tuesday 22

Trends in Spirituality in Modern China 1pm

Haiyun Jimeng, Joseph Loftus, etc. | The Bookworm | BW22B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

China still has, by a wide margin, the most atheists in the world, but religion – and spirituality – has steadily risen over the past two decades. Buddhism and Confucianism have been booming, but more people are also turning to Christianity to find a foothold in the modern world. And interestingly, unlike in many countries, the rise of religious conversion in China has paralleled its urban development. What is it about the city – and life there – that nudges people toward faith?

Thursday 24

The Future of the Chinese Economy 1pm

Tom Orlik, Michael Schuman, Lingling Wei; moderated by Mark Magnier | The Bookworm | BW24B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

“Made In China: The Next Global Recession,” blared the headline on a Time magazine story in January. China has been an economic warhorse for the last decade, but recent events – a GDP growth slowdown, a weaker currency, growing debt, stock market crashes – have given analysts reasons for worry. Is the Chinese economy experiencing a hiccup, or are these the early days of a full-blown recession? This panel of experts – featuring Tom Orlik, Beijing-based economist for Bloomberg; Michael Schuman, award-winning journalist and author of The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia’s Quest for Wealth; and Lingling Wei, finance journalist at the Wall Street Journal – will discuss. Moderated by Wall Street Journal China correspondent Mark Magnier.

Friday 25

The Future for Civil Society and Philanthropy in China 1pm

Chloé Froissart, Li Li, etc. | The Bookworm | BW25B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online 

Civil society is defined as the “third sector” of society, outside of government and business. It’s a country’s social sphere, and often can contribute as significantly to a country’s stability as its state or market. How do we define China’s civil society, whose very existence relies upon the state, and whose health is closely tied with the strength of the market? For those working in China’s civil society and philanthropy sectors, what challenges do they face, and how might they overcome them? 

Saturday 26

The Arts Alive: Identity and New Media in Contemporary Chinese Art 10am

Ju Anqi, Tian Xiaolei; moderated by Ellen Larson | The Bookworm | BW26A | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Ellen Larson, editor of, will lead a discussion with emerging Beijing-based artists. Together they will discuss current happenings within Beijing’s vibrant, diverse, and rapidly evolving contemporary art world, introducing viewers to innovative and exciting new trends. Members of the panel will discuss the intersection between their work and contemporary Chinese society, taking inspiration from everyday life experiences, memory, tradition, and the increasingly significant role of technology. Ju Anqi is a filmmaker whose There’s a Strong Wind in Beijing was nominated at the Berlin Film Festival as a milestone in experimental Chinese film, while Tian Xiaolei is a digital artist whose video shorts and animations have received accolades from the Odense International Film Festival and Berlin Interfilm International Short Film Festival. This event will be in Chinese with English interpretation.

Sunday 27

Chinese Filmmaking: From the Indies to Hollywood 10am

Julie Makinen, Pema Tseden, Jenny Man Wu, Raymond Zhou; moderated by Clifford Coonan | The Bookworm | BW27A | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

While China’s major film studios continue looking to Hollywood for inspiration – and continue to fast-track projects to capture the attention of foreign audiences – a quiet revolution is happening back home, as a record number of independent films and documentaries are being made every year, screened at small festivals, impromptu theaters, and art houses. What’s the current status of China’s vast filmmaking industry? How does it compare, both internationally and to its own ambitions? And what are the biggest issues confronting Chinese filmmakers and producers today? This panel includes Pema Tseden, an award-winning Tibetan filmmaker (The Search, Tharlo, etc.); Raymond Zhou, a film critic who’s been called “Beijing’s answer to Roger Ebert”; Julie Makinen, former film editor at the Los Angeles Times; and Jenny Man Wu, a filmmaker, film festival organizer, and project manager at a China-Europe coproduction association; moderated by former Hollywood Reporter contributor Clifford Coonan.

China LGBT Panel: The Tumultuous Year That Was :: 同志故事——温故2015 noon

Kate, Lotus 莲, Wei Tingting (韦婷婷), Ying Xin (Xiao Tie) 小铁; moderated by Fan Popo 范坡坡主持人 | The Bookworm 老书虫 | BW27B | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

Looking back, 2015 was a rollercoaster ride for China’s LGBT movement. On one hand, members of the community won lawsuits against psychological clinics, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), the Department of Education, and the Department of Civil Affairs; and Taobao joined with LGBT organizations to fund the marriages of seven couples in California. On the other, NGOs were subjected to tougher crackdowns, and the arrest of five female activists caused a chilling effect across the LGBT community. At this event, several important members from the LGBT movement will share their reflections and visions of both past and future. (Of note: 2016 is an important anniversary as it marks 15 years since the Chinese Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness.) This event will be in Chinese with English interpretation. 


China’s Future Perfect 4pm

Hu Xingdou, Melinda Liu, David Moser, Joerg Wuttke | The Bookworm | BW27D | 60 RMB  Purchase Online

What kind of future is China building, and what role can we all play? Now is the time for big and bold ideas. This Future Perfect discussion will summarize all the themes previously explored in the China Nonfiction series, then try to answer the hardest question of them all: how does this country create the cleanest, most stable, innovative, and sustainable future for itself? A historian, a journalist, an academic, and a financial expert will speculate. Brought to you in cooperation with the Royal Asiatic Society, Beijing.

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