• Zhou Na for ChinaFile

    The Window

    The Aftermath of the Tianjin Explosion

    Zhou Na

    I have spent three years collecting accounts and examining how survivors and families have coped since that traumatic event. I document the lingering pain, to resist public forgetting and indifference. Hundreds of photographs bear witness to the broken windows, scorched facades, and environmental contamination, attesting to the mass destruction and disruption of the private spaces that were once called home. Read full story>>

  • Poisonous Pandas

    Chinese Cigarette Manufacturing in Critical Historical Perspectives

    A favorite icon for cigarette manufacturers across China since the mid-20th century has been the panda, with factories from Shanghai to Sichuan using cuddly cliché to market tobacco products. The proliferation of panda-branded cigarettes coincides with profound, yet poorly appreciated, shifts in the worldwide tobacco trade. Over the last 50 years, transnational tobacco companies and their allies have fueled a tripling of the world’s annual consumption of cigarettes. At the forefront is the... Read full story>>

  • (China Photos/Getty Images)

    We’re a Long Way from 2008

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Kate Merkel-Hess, Maura Cunningham & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    On August 8, 2008, China’s then Chairman Hu Jintao told a group of world leaders visiting Beijing to attend the Olympics that “the historic moment we have long awaited is arriving.” Indeed, awarding the Games to China in 2001 sparked a fierce debate about whether Beijing was truly ready to host an event of this size and importance. The country’s leadership was intent on staging an Olympics that would leave no doubt about China’s rise and the Communist Party’s legitimacy. 10 years later, how do... Read full story>>

  • (ImagineChina)

    Remaking China’s Civil Society in the Xi Jinping Era

    Shawn Shieh

    Given his past animosity towards civil society, Xi’s actions have been seen by some as moving China towards a new form of totalitarianism and a closing of the space for civil society. I would argue instead that we should see Xi’s ascendancy, together with previous policies carried out during his last five years as General Secretary, as advancing an ambitious effort to remake civil society in the Party-state’s image. Whether he succeeds will depend to a large measure on civil society’s response... Read full story>>

  • Lintao Zhang—Pool/Getty Images

    What Would a U.S. War—or Peace—with Iran mean for China?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Jarrett Blanc, Michael Kovrig & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil, Iran’s largest trading partner, and arguably its most important positive political relationship. What do Trump’s threats to Iran mean for China’s relationship with the country? And how would a war between the United States and Iran affect China’s interests? Read full story>>

  • Joe Maher—Getty Images

    China May Become the World’s Leader in AI. But at What Cost?

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    Andrew Batson, Virgilio Bisio & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    The unprecedented amounts of data Chinese tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba collect is helping accelerate China’s development of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including facial recognition, automated retail operations, and its much-discussed social credit system. But it has also raised ethical concerns about data privacy, and about the state’s control over its citizens. Policymakers in Beijing are trying to balance these concerns with a desire to strengthen China’s... Read full story>>

  • Lintao Zhang—Getty Images

    Where Does Africa Fit in Xi Jinping’s Worldview?

    A China in Africa Podcast

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

    The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit will take place at a delicate time for Chinese President Xi Jinping, as he confronts enormous challenges related to the ongoing trade war with the United States and, at the same time, huge opportunities to expand his country’s role in global affairs. What should African leaders should be prepared for when they arrive in Beijing? Read full story>>

Recent Stories

Conversation

07.12.18

Can China Replace the U.S. in Europe?

Jan Weidenfeld, Isabel Hilton & more
The G7 debacle reminded Europeans the problems with relying on a fraying transatlantic partnership. Meanwhile, China has been playing a larger role on the continent, increasing its investment and its political influence. On July 6-7, Bulgaria held...

Conversation

06.14.18

One Year After They Almost Went to War, Can China and India Get Along?

Joel Wuthnow, Selina Ho & more
One year ago, the Chinese and Indian armies faced off at Doklam, a disputed Himalayan area on the border between China, India, and the tiny kingdom of Bhutan. While the two sides didn’t go to war over the border as they did in 1962, tensions were...

Resetting China-India Relations

Paul Haenle & C. Raja Mohan from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Following a year marked by mounting tensions between China and India, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Wuhan for an informal summit in April to reset the relationship. Major points of tension dominating China-India...

Conversation

05.11.18

Do American Companies Need to Take a Stance on Taiwan?

J. Michael Cole, Frances Kitt & more
China’s airline regulator recently sent a letter to 36 international air carriers requiring them to remove from their websites references implying that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are not part of China. In a surprisingly direct May 5 statement, the...

Conversation

06.04.18

How Should the World Respond to Intensifying Repression in Xinjiang?

Rian Thum, Rachel Harris & more
Deliberate, systematic human rights abuses are happening in China’s northwest. Reporting and research published in recent weeks shows that the Chinese government is targeting the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’s roughly 11 million Muslims for “re...

Photography & Video

Depth of Field

06.28.18

Staying on Point in Rural China

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this edition of Depth of Field: aspiring ballerinas, what’s beneath the gilt in a rich Zhejiang town, worn out doctors, disappearing schools, melting snow, data farms, and the powerful appeal of dancing outdoors.

Books

Books

07.26.18

Imperial Twilight

Stephen Platt
Alfred A. Knopf: As China reclaims its position as a world power, Imperial Twilight looks back to tell the story of the country’s last age of ascendance and how it came to an end in the 19th-century Opium War.When Britain launched its first war on China in 1839, pushed into hostilities by profiteering drug merchants and free-trade interests, it sealed the fate of what had long been seen as the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. But internal problems of corruption, popular unrest, and dwindling finances had weakened China far more than was commonly understood, and the war would help set in motion the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty—which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the 20th century. As one of the most potent turning points in the country’s modern history, the Opium War has since come to stand for everything that today’s China seeks to put behind it.In this dramatic, epic story, award-winning historian Stephen Platt sheds new light on the early attempts by Western traders and missionaries to “open” China—traveling mostly in secret beyond Canton, the single port where they were allowed—even as China’s imperial rulers were struggling to manage their country’s decline and Confucian scholars grappled with how to use foreign trade to China’s advantage. The book paints an enduring portrait of an immensely profitable and mostly peaceful meeting of civilizations at Canton over the long term that was destined to be shattered by one of the most shockingly unjust wars in the annals of imperial history. Brimming with a fascinating cast of British, Chinese, and American individuals, this riveting narrative of relations between China and the West has important implications for today’s uncertain and ever-changing political climate.{chop}

Books

07.10.18

Blood Letters

Lian Xi
Basic Books: The staggering story of the most important Chinese political dissident of the Mao era, a devout Christian who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the regime.Blood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a poet and journalist arrested by the authorities in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Openly and steadfastly opposing communism under Mao, she rooted her dissent in her Christian faith—and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.Miraculously, Lin Zhao’s prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with her friends, her classmates, and other former political prisoners, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.{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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