NüVoices Podcast Episode #110: Feminist Activism Then & Now, a Conversation with Wanqing Zhang, Lijia Zhang & Jessie Lau

This week, NüVoices board members and co-hosts Jessie Lau and Lijia Zhang are in conversation with Wanqing Zhang, an independent journalist, to discuss China’s feminist movement taking place online. Despite formidable challenges such as censorship, harassment, and societal pressures, these feminists continue to resist patriarchal norms, as revealed in Wanqing’s recent in-depth feature for Rest of World.

In the podcast episode, Wanqing shares the stories of women she spoke to regarding this latest wave of digital activism — taking place on Chinese social media platforms like Xiaohongshu. Lijia Zhang discusses how feminism in China has transformed since the early 2000s, and Jessie highlights the ongoing crackdowns on Chinese gender activism both domestically and internationally. Together, the three writers discuss how feminists are innovatively navigating recent periods of crackdowns and immense adversity.

Our Missing Hearts, a novel by Celeste Ng 

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, by Matthew McKay

Butoh, a form of Japanese dance theater

Past Lives, an A24 film 

Wanqing Zhang’s feature story for Rest of World

Jessie’s BBC World Service documentary, “China’s Silenced Feminist” on the “disappearance” of feminist journalist Sophia Huang Xueqin 

Lijia’s NYT op-ed on Chinese tech sexism 

About Wanqing:
She is a Brussels-based journalist specializing in reporting on gender, society, and technology within China. Her articles have been featured in publications such as Foreign Policy, Rest of World, Radio Free Asia, Sixth Tone, and Vice China. She has been honored with the SOPA Award for both Investigative Reporting and Business Reporting. In her free time, she has dedicated years to volunteering at grassroots NGOs that support domestic violence survivors.

About our hosts:
Jessie Lau is a freelance journalist covering human rights, politics and culture from a transnational, feminist perspective. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Foreign Policy, CNN, The Economist and elsewhere. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she’s now based in London and serves as editor and board member at NuVoices. Previously, she held reporting and producing roles at the BBC World Service, Channel 4 News, The Diplomat and South China Morning Post. She holds a MSc in International History from the London School of Economics, an LLM in International Relations from Peking University, and a BA in English from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Lijia Zhang is a factory-worker-turned writer, social commentator and public speaker. One of the few Chinese who write regularly in English for international publications, her articles have appeared in The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, Newsweek and The New York Times. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Socialism Is Great!” about her decade-long experience of working at a rocket factory in Nanjing and her debut novel Lotus, on prostitution in contemporary China, was published by Macmillan and was featured by BBC radio’s World Book Club. She is a recipient of the prestigious fellowship on the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. Lijia has lectured at many conferences, institutions and universities around the world, including Asia EU Economic Forum, European Institute for Asian Studies, The University of Sydney, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Oxford. She is a regular speaker on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN and NPR. She divides her time between London and Beijing.