• Chung Sung-Jun—Getty Images

    Does China Want the Koreas to Reconcile?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Bo Zhiyue, Zhang Baohui & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    This Friday, April 27, the South Korean and North Korean leaders will meet in the demilitarized zone dividing their estranged countries to discuss improving relations and possibly even formally ending the Korean War, which has continued in the form of an often tense and fragile armistice since the cessation of combat in 1953. This inter-Korean summit, the first since 2007, signifies closer ties between the two Koreas—and will be an important bellwether for Donald Trump’s late-May or early-June... Read full story>>

  • Tao Zhang—Getty Images

    How Africa Benefits from China’s Rapidly Aging Population

    A China in Africa Podcast

    Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more via China Africa Project

    China’s rapidly aging population presents a huge challenge for the country as it needs to find new ways to pay for rising healthcare and social welfare benefits. And that’s where Africa may be able to help. Home to one of the youngest populations on the planet, young African workers might be able to help resolve the problem of China’s shrinking labor pool. Read full story>>

  • Sold People

    Traffickers and Family Life in North China

    Ransmeier draws from untapped archival sources to recreate the lived experience of human trafficking in turn-of-the-century North China. Not always a measure of last resort reserved for times of extreme hardship, the sale of people was a commonplace transaction that built and restructured families as often as it broke them apart. Read full story>>

  • Alexander F. Yuan—Pool/Getty Images

    The Corrections Needed in the U.S.-China Relationship

    A China in the World Podcast

    Paul Haenle & Stephen Hadley via Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

    Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, argues that the United States took false comfort in China’s hide-and-bide strategy and failed to recognize that China would increasingly assert itself as it became more comfortable operating in the international system. He argues the United States needs to be more realistic about how the U.S.-China relationship will proceed in the 21st century, calling for the United States to defend its values of democracy, human... Read full story>>

  • (Archive Photos/Getty Images)

    Trump’s Incredibly Risky Taiwan Policy

    J. Stapleton Roy

    So-called friends of Taiwan in the United States are putting the island at risk as never before. The Taiwan Travel Act, passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, and signed by President Trump on March 16, 2018 without reservations, could gravely erode the distinction between the United States’ official relationship with the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) and its unofficial relationship with Taiwan. Read full story>>

  • Government Cartoon Portrays ‘Foreign NGOs’ as National Security Concern

    As part of the third annual “National Security Education Day” on April 15, several Chinese government institutions released a cartoon warning citizens to be on alert for attempts at foreign political infiltration. The cartoon shows a foreign NGO employee meeting with a Chinese workers’ organization, paying for worker trainings abroad, organizing protests, and providing extra money to his contact at the Chinese organization. Following the cartoon panels is an article describing how foreign spies... Read full story>>

  • Emmanuel Wong—Getty Images

    Has Xi Jinping Changed China? Not Really

    Teng Biao

    Xi Jinping has had an eventful early spring. After he abolished presidential term limits and was unanimously elected—if it can be called an election—to serve another term in that post, Xi got the world’s attention again by holding a meeting with Kim Jong-un. Xi was also in the spotlight when he addressed the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia, promising more openness in the face of a looming trade war. Many observers now seem convinced that Xi has changed China and maybe, even, the international order... Read full story>>

Recent Stories

Conversation

04.18.18

A Ban on Gay Content, Stopped in Its Tracks

Siodhbhra Parkin, Steven Jiang & more
On April 13, China’s major microblogging platform Sina Weibo announced that, in order to create “a sunny and harmonious” environment, it would remove videos and comics “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to...

Viewpoint

04.06.18

I Thought Studying Journalism outside of China Would Open Doors. Now I’m Not So Sure.

Shen Lu
Six years ago as I was about to begin my undergraduate career at The University of Iowa majoring in journalism, a fellow Chinese student who’d switched her major from communications studies to business ruthlessly doubted my choice. “How on earth...

Viewpoint

03.31.18

Nixon in China, Trump in Pyongyang

Sergey Radchenko
On March 25, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing in an armored train for talks with Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping, the first known time he traveled outside his country since his father and predecessor died in...

Excerpts

03.31.18

The U.S.-Made Chinese Future That Wasn’t

Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
Soon, such a scene would become unthinkable. It was a cold morning in early March 1946, a rocky airstrip laid along a broad, barren valley in China’s northwest, lined by mountains of tawny dust blown from the Gobi Desert. Six months earlier, one war...

Viewpoint

03.27.18

Secretary Pompeo’s First China Briefing

Robert Daly
Donald Trump’s national security documents frame China as the United States’ greatest long-term threat. This declaration caps a historic shift in America’s strategic disposition toward China. From the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979,...

Photography & Video

Depth of Field

04.02.18

Slow Trains, Shrinking Boomtowns, and Men Who Know Ice

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this issue of Depth of Field, we take a ride on one of China’s slowest trains, meet the workers who cut the ice for Harbin’s winter festival, and follow two mentally disabled “sent-down youth” on a rare trip home to visit their families. Also:...

Depth of Field

02.20.18

When You Give a Kid a Camera

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This dispatch of photojournalism from China cuts across a broad spectrum of society, from film screenings in Beijing for the visually impaired to an acrobatics school 200 miles south, in Puyang, Henan province, and from children in rural Sichuan to...

Photo Gallery

12.19.17

Announcing The 2017 Abigail Cohen Fellows

In 2014, ChinaFile and the Magnum Foundation founded the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography to support photographers working to address pressing social issues impacting China and its relations with the world that have not received...

Books

Books

04.24.18

Sold People

Johanna S. Ransmeier
Harvard University Press: A robust trade in human lives thrived throughout North China during the late Qing and Republican periods. Whether to acquire servants, slaves, concubines, or children―or dispose of unwanted household members―families at all levels of society addressed various domestic needs by participating in this market. Sold People brings into focus the complicit dynamic of human trafficking, including the social and legal networks that sustained it. Johanna Ransmeier reveals the extent to which the structure of the Chinese family not only influenced but encouraged the buying and selling of men, women, and children.For centuries, human trafficking had an ambiguous status in Chinese society. Prohibited in principle during the Qing period, it was nevertheless widely accepted as part of family life, despite the frequent involvement of criminals. In 1910, Qing reformers, hoping to usher China into the community of modern nations, officially abolished the trade. But police and other judicial officials found the new law extremely difficult to enforce. Industrialization, urbanization, and the development of modern transportation systems created a breeding ground for continued commerce in people. The Republican government that came to power after the 1911 revolution similarly struggled to root out the entrenched practice.Ransmeier draws from untapped archival sources to recreate the lived experience of human trafficking in turn-of-the-century North China. Not always a measure of last resort reserved for times of extreme hardship, the sale of people was a commonplace transaction that built and restructured families as often as it broke them apart.{chop}

Books

04.12.18

China’s Great Wall of Debt

Dinny McMahon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong.In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow banking system have all become a regular fixture in the press in recent years, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.Through the stories of ordinary Chinese citizens, McMahon tries to make sense of the unique—and often bizarre—mechanics of the Chinese economy, whether it be the state’s addiction to appropriating land from poor farmers, why a Chinese entrepreneur decided it was cheaper to move his yarn factory to South Carolina, why ambitious Chinese mayors build ghost cities, or why the Chinese bureaucracy was able to stare down Beijing’s attempts to break up the state’s pointless monopoly over the distribution of table salt.Debt, entrenched vested interests, a frenzy of speculation, and an aging population are all pushing China toward an economic reckoning. China’s Great Wall of Debt unravels an incredibly complex and opaque economy, one whose fortunes—for better or worse—will shape the globe like never before.{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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