• Jeff Widener—AP Photo

    How I Learned About Tiananmen

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Anonymous, Tianyu M. Fang & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    In April, ChinaFile put out a call for young people who grew up in China to describe how they first learned about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, and how they felt about it. Here is a selection of the responses we received, including several from authors who requested their posts be published anonymously. Read full story>>

  • Muyi Xiao for ChinaFile

    ChinaFile Presents: Erasing History—Why Remember Tiananmen

    Nicholas D. Kristof, Zha Jianying & more

    On the evening of June 3, ChinaFile hosted a discussion on the Chinese government’s efforts to control, manipulate, and forestall remembrance of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the bloody crackdown that ended them. Participating in the talk at Asia Society in New York were Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, author Zha Jianying, and ChinaFile Publisher Orville Schell, all of whom were in Beijing in the spring of 1989. The discussion was moderated by ChinaFile Editor Susan Jakes. Read full story>>

  • Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

    Is Hong Kong Forgetting to Remember June Fourth?

    Violet Law

    In sharp contrast to anywhere else in China, Hong Kong has stood as a steadfast stronghold of remembrance of the massacre, protected by the territory’s political system that guarantees freedoms of assembly and expression. Every June 4, the commemorative vigil in the city’s Victoria Park strikes a defiant stance against the Chinese Communist Party’s official oblivion. But now, 30 years on, Hong Kong’s struggle in keeping the memory alive is more difficult than at any time since the former... Read full story>>

  • Sadayuki Mikami—AP Photo

    Six Questions and Four Articles About Tiananmen Square

    Isaac Stone Fish

    Why can’t we banish history from our memories? The author Ling Zhijun titled his 2008 exploration of Mao Zedong’s disastrous people’s communes “History No Longer Lingers,” and it sometimes feels counterintuitive that we cannot forget past tragedies and concentrate on a better future. But in the time since People’s Liberation Army soldiers started shooting unarmed students in Beijing 30 years ago, thousands of witnesses, journalists, historians, and commentators have prevented that history from... Read full story>>

  • Feng Li—Getty Images

    Four Is Forbidden

    Finding My Way to the Truth about Tiananmen

    Yangyang Cheng

    Liusi. Six-four. The two-syllable word, spoken nonchalantly by our teacher, was a stone cast into the tranquil pond of a classroom. From each ripple rose a gasp, a murmur, or a perplexed face, with only one or two enunciating the question on many of our minds, “What is six-four?” It was the summer of 2002. I was 12 years old. At the extracurricular English course my mother enrolled me in, most of the students were college-age. Fresh off a growth spurt and buoyed by an English proficiency that... Read full story>>

  • (China Photos/Getty Images)

    What Exactly Is the Story with China’s Rare Earths?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Paul Haenle & Scott Kennedy via ChinaFile

    Deng Xiaoping reportedly said that while the Middle East has oil, China has rare earths. On May 29, Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily warned of the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on Chinese rare earths: “Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China . . ? The answer is no mystery.” And on May 20, China’s Chairman Xi Jinping visited a rare earths facility in southern China, signaling that Beijing may strategically restrict its exports of rare earths to the United... Read full story>>

  • MN Chan—Getty Images

    Taiwan and Hong Kong Have a Stake in Mainland China’s Political Development. They Should Act on It.

    Andreas Fulda

    A range of observers and experts predicted that mainland China’s rapid economic modernization since the early 1990s would lead to social and political liberalization. Needless to say, that has not come to pass. The mainland’s economic reforms have neither led to liberal democracy nor social equality, nor have they enhanced transparency and accountability. Still, I am more optimistic when it comes to the potential for mainland China’s society to outgrow authoritarianism in the medium to long run... Read full story>>

  • Mark Avery—AP Photo

    Why We Remember June Fourth

    Perry Link

    Some people recently asked, “Why must you remember June Fourth? Thirty years have gone by. It is history. Get over it. Move on.” A simple question, but there are many answers. No single answer is adequate, and all of the answers together still leave the question hanging in mid-air, asking for more. Read full story>>

Recent Stories

Conversation

05.30.19

What Are We Getting Wrong about the Trade War?

Victor Shih, Yu Zhou & more from ChinaFile
Since the collapse of trade talks in mid-May, voices from both sides have warned of the economic havoc their side can unleash while boasting of their economy’s resilience. Academics in China speak about weaponizing the country’s foreign exchange...
05.20.19

What Would Amending Hong Kong’s Law on Extradition Mean for International Non-Profits?

Amanda Bogan & Jessica Batke
Hong Kong legislators are currently engaged in a fierce struggle over the proposed passing of a bill that would expand Hong Kong's policy to allow for extradition, on a case-by-case basis, to countries with which the territory does not have...

Viewpoint

05.08.19

This Year, I Couldn’t Avoid May Fourth

Taisu Zhang
The one hundredth anniversary of the 1919 May Fourth Movement came and went last week much as one would have expected...For some, myself included, the anniversary evoked a set of more complicated emotions. For years, these complications have pushed...

Features

05.15.19

ChinaFile Presents: Hong Kong’s Relationship with Beijing, An Update

ChinaFile hosted a conversation at the Asia Society on May 9, with veteran Hong Kong legislator and rule of law advocate Martin Lee, longtime journalist and media rights expert Mak Yin-ting, and democracy activist Nathan Law, moderated by ChinaFile...

A Specter Is Haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Something strange is happening in Xi Jinping’s China. This is supposed to be the perfect dictatorship, the most sustained period of authoritarianism since the Cultural Revolution ended more than 40 years ago, a period of such damning disappointment...

Photography & Video

Depth of Field

02.25.19

Living by the Rivers

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
If the stories in this edition of Depth of Field share a common thread—apart from their distinguished photographic storytelling—it’s their interest in the flux and churn of life in China in 2019, where nothing seems fixed and pressure of constant...

Books

Books

05.29.19

Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos

Sarah Schneewind
Harvard University Press: Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos places the institution of pre-mortem shrines at the intersection of politics and religion. When a local official left his post, grateful subjects housed an image of him in a temple, requiting his grace: that was the ideal model. By Ming times, the “living shrine” was legal, old, and justified by readings of the classics.Sarah Schneewind argues that the institution could invite and pressure officials to serve local interests; the policies that had earned a man commemoration were carved into stone beside the shrine. Since everyone recognized that elite men might honor living officials just to further their own careers, pre-mortem shrine rhetoric stressed the role of commoners, who embraced the opportunity by initiating many living shrines. This legitimate, institutionalized political voice for commoners expands a scholarly understanding of “public opinion” in late imperial China, aligning it with the efficacy of deities to create a nascent political conception Schneewind calls the “minor Mandate of Heaven.” Her exploration of pre-mortem shrine theory and practice illuminates Ming thought and politics, including the Donglin Party’s battle with eunuch dictator Wei Zhongxian and Gu Yanwu’s theories.{chop}

Books

05.10.19

The Costs of Conversation

Oriana Skylar Mastro
Cornell University Press: After a war breaks out, what factors influence the warring parties’ decisions about whether to talk to their enemy, and when may their position on wartime diplomacy change? How do we get from only fighting to also talking?In The Costs of Conversation, Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that states are primarily concerned with the strategic costs of conversation, and these costs need to be low before combatants are willing to engage in direct talks with their enemy. Specifically, Mastro writes, leaders look to two factors when determining the probable strategic costs of demonstrating a willingness to talk: the likelihood the enemy will interpret openness to diplomacy as a sign of weakness, and how the enemy may change its strategy in response to such an interpretation. Only if a state thinks it has demonstrated adequate strength and resiliency to avoid the inference of weakness, and believes that its enemy has limited capacity to escalate or intensify the war, will it be open to talking with the enemy.Through four primary case studies—North Vietnamese diplomatic decisions during the Vietnam War, those of China in the Korean War and Sino-Indian War, and Indian diplomatic decision making in the latter conflict—The Costs of Conversation demonstrates that the costly conversations thesis best explains the timing and nature of countries’ approach to wartime talks, and therefore when peace talks begin. As a result, Mastro’s findings have significant theoretical and practical implications for war duration and termination, as well as for military strategy, diplomacy, and mediation.{chop}

Reports

Reports

09.01.17

The Costs of International Advocacy

Human Rights Watch
Even as it engages with U.N. human rights institutions, China has worked consistently and often aggressively to silence criticism of its human rights record before U.N. bodies and has taken actions aimed at weakening some of the central mechanisms...

Reports

05.24.17

China’s Social Credit System: A Big-Data Enabled Approach to Market Regulation with Broad Implications for Doing Business in China

Mirjam Meissner
Mirjam Meissner
Mercator Institute for China Studies
Under the catchphrase “Social Credit System,” China is currently implementing a new and highly innovative approach to monitoring, rating, and regulating the behavior of market participants. The Social Credit System will have significant impact on...

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