• China, Trade and Power

    Why the West’s Economic Engagement Has Failed

    Few people could tell you what happened on December 11, 2001, yet China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will define the geopolitics of the 21st century. What were Western leaders thinking at the time? This book tells the story of the most successful trading nation of the early 21st century. It looks at how the Chinese Communist Party has retained and cemented its monopoly of political power, producing unimagined riches for the political elite. It is the most extraordinary... Read full story>>

  • Anthony Kwan—Getty Images

    Hong Kong in Protest

    A ChinaFile Conversation

    David Schlesinger, Ho-fung Hung & more via ChinaFile Conversation

    On June 16, an estimated 2 million people took to the streets to protest the Hong Kong government’s handling of a proposed extradition bill. This followed two massive demonstrations against the bill earlier in the month, including one where police used pepper spray and tear gas against protesters. The controversial bill would allow Hong Kong to extradite to the mainland those accused of crimes under the People’s Republic of China’s Communist Party-led legal system. While Hong Kong Chief... Read full story>>

  • Carl Court—Getty Images

    What Does the Pause of Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill Mean?

    Jerome A. Cohen

    The Hong Kong people’s historic mass protests during the past 10 days have demonstrated their awareness that the now suspended extradition bill proposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam represented a threat to Hong Kong’s promised “high degree of autonomy.” The bill’s passage would have deprived China’s Special Administrative Region of its power to defend its citizens, other residents, and even visitors against the demands of the Chinese Central Government to forcibly transfer alleged suspects to... Read full story>>

  • 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>>

  • 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>>

  • 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

Viewpoint

05.31.19

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...

Viewpoint

06.04.19

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...
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...

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...

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...

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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