Sinophone studies, in Shu-mei Shih’s original formulation, refers to “a network of places of cultural production outside China and on the margins of China and Chineseness”. This essay contributes to the debate on how to “include China” in the ever-productive task to decentre the hegemonic aspects of Chineseness. In particular, recent Hong Kong literature and popular culture invoke a temporal critique that one can term “nearly historical”. The concept of “nearly historical” describes the recent speculative cultural texts produced in Hong Kong, which are saturated with dystopian visions that indicate how Hong Kong is temporally and spatially threatened with political marginalization, censorship, neoliberal class segmentation, and even hopelessness. On the other hand, near-histories, by imagining how close we are to the dark ending, may also activate insurgent senses of hope, anger, and even activism. Specifically, analysing Chan Koonchung’s (陳冠中) Hong Kong Trilogy (香港三部曲) written between 1978 and 2003, his 2009 dystopian novel about China, Shengshi/The Year of Prosperity: China, 2013 (盛世), and the recent online television drama To Be or Not to Be (來生不做香港人), I illustrate how gender functions as a geopolitical border that mediates the sexual economies already at work across the Mainland China–Hong Kong border. “Including China” in the cultural politics of Hong Kong also means playing with China-centrism at spatial and temporal proximity while taking feminist and queer approaches seriously. Theorizing the Sinophone, Hong Kong, and China-centrism in this mode can open up more productive debates regarding the mutual implication between the centre and the margin through the postcolonial geopolitics of gender.
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