Soe Than Win—Getty Images

Could China Now Defeat the United States in a Battle Over the South China Sea or Taiwan?

A ChinaFile Conversation

Joel Wuthnow, Phillip C. Saunders & more via ChinaFile Conversation

Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping kicked off the latest round of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reforms at a September 3, 2015 military parade. The reforms could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA. This could create new operational challenges for the U.S. military in the Western Pacific, limiting U.S. ability to intervene in a crisis related to the self-governing island of Taiwan or elsewhere in the region.

Yuyang Liu for ChinaFile

A Newer New Frontier

Beijing’s Ambitious Plans for Xinjiang

Yuyang Liu

Beijing’s relationship to Xinjiang and its roughly 10 million Uighurs has long been troubled. Over the last few years, several terrorist attacks allegedly committed by Uighurs throughout China have exacerbated tensions between the two ethnicities. But Beijing’s current aid program has given Xinjiang almost 22.4 billion RMB in investment over the last two years—and billions more in the years prior. New malls, roads, and construction projects have transformed the region.

Kevin Frayer—Getty Images

China Analysts Should Talk to Each Other, Not at Each Other

Scott Kennedy via Tea Leaf Nation

On August 12, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its annual report card on China’s economy and gave the country mixed grades, finding that its “economic transition will continue to be complex, challenging, and potentially bumpy.” In particular, the report emphasized the need for China to get its corporate debt under control. That sounds sensible enough. But it does not reflect a consensus among or within the China-watching community. In fact, Western China analysts are caught up in such a long-running debate about China’s trajectory that even a weighty conclusion like the IMF’s is unlikely to change their views at all.The conflict over China’s trajectory pits three camps against...

Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images

What’s Next for Uber and Didi in China?

via Caixin

New regulations and a blockbuster merger between the industry’s largest players are reshaping the business landscape for China’s car-hailing app companies.And the landscape is widening as car-hailing companies, including Didi Chuxing Technology Co., which merged in August with Uber Technologies Inc.’s China unit, explore financial services such as vehicle leasing and auto insurance. Future growth areas may include car dealerships.The industry is reshaping—and maturing—in the context of a new legal environment. Regulations jointly issued by seven central government departments in July set up a regulatory framework for the nascent industry, spelling out requirements on issues such as drivers...

Jack Taylor—AFP/Getty Images

Is Huawei Doing Enough to Train Local Staff in Africa?

A China in Africa Podcast

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

The Chinese telecom giant Huawei recently launched a massive publicity campaign to raise awareness in Africa about what it is doing to train local employees. The company has opened at least five training centers in different countries across the continent and claims that it annually provides skills training to 12,000 Africans. Every year, Huawei says it sponsors thousands of IT engineers from Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, among other countries, to travel to the company’s headquarters in southern China for additional skills development. The company also says it wants to move beyond simple training programs to seeding African technology innovation: In July, Huawei announced a new...

(AFP/Getty Images)

What Would China Look Like Today Had Zhao Ziyang Survived?

A ChinaFile Conversation

Julian B. Gewirtz, David Shambaugh & more via ChinaFile Conversation

Almost 500 previously unpublished documents about Zhao Ziyang, the bold reformer who served as China’s premier (1980-1987) and Communist Party general secretary (1987-1989), were smuggled out of China and published in late July by the Chinese University Press in Hong Kong. The documents show how Zhao led a decade of transformational economic reform and sketched out plans for political reform. Zhao was purged in 1989 and died under house arrest in 2005. The documents have sparked a renewed interest in his time in power and offer an opportunity to imagine what might have been had the man and his ideas survived.

(VCG/Getty Images)

Why an Elite Chinese Student Decided Not to Join the Communist Party

An Excerpt from ‘Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China’

Alec Ash

“Wish Lanterns” follows the lives of six Chinese born between 1985 and 1990 as they grow up, go to school, and pursue their aspirations. Millennials are a transformational generation in China, heralding key societal and cultural shifts, and they are a hugely diverse group.


Recent Stories



What Does Uber’s Retreat Say About the Ability of U.S. Internet Innovators to Succeed in China?

Kaiser Kuo, Angela Bao & more
In early August, news broke that Uber would sell its China business to Didi Chuxing, its largest rival on the Mainland. Uber is just the latest in a series of tech companies—including Google, Twitter, and Amazon, among others—that found the Middle...

Sinica Podcast


Clay Shirky on Tech and the Internet in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
The Internet expert and author of “Here Comes Everybody” gives his take on China's successes and challenges in the online world. In an hour-long conversation Shirky delves into the details and big-picture phenomena driving the globe’s largest...



U.S. Presidential Candidates on China

Our Presidential Quotes tracker keeps you up to date on what the current candidates are saying about China, and where and when they say it. We’ll be updating the site with new and expanded tools for understanding China’s role in the U.S. election in...



Visualizing China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

“Catching Tigers and Flies” is ChinaFile’s new interactive tool for tracking and, we hope, better understanding the massive campaign against corruption that China’s President, Xi Jinping, launched shortly after he came to power in late 2012. It is designed to give users a sense of the scope and character of the anti-corruption campaign by graphically rendering information about nearly 1,500 of its targets whose cases have been publicly announced in official Chinese sources.



China’s Failure in the South China Sea

Orville Schell
By reiterating its policy of “no acceptance, no participation, no recognition, and no implementation,” China has painted itself into a difficult corner and diminished the chances of resolving the myriad maritime disputes—involving Vietnam, Brunei,...



You Ask How Deeply I Love You

Anna Beth Keim
“Back when I was a soldier on Kinmen, around 1975, the water demons still sometimes killed people,” Xu Shifu (Master Xu) said. The laugh-lines at the corners of his eyes were not visible now, even in the white fluorescent light shining down from the...

Photography and Video

Depth of Field


Creating Internet Celebrities, Personal Shoppers, Queer Life, and More

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
Natural disasters and trend stories are the bread and butter of photojournalists and July was no exception. We bring you the work of photographers who explored the burgeoning world of cellphone celebrities, waded into flood-struck areas, and...



Visualizing China’s Aid to Africa

Eva Constantaras
In June of last year, 50 countries signed on to the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, including the U.K., Germany, Australia, and South Korea, acknowledgement of China’s success in driving development through mega-projects to build...




Creativity Class

Lily Chumley
The last three decades have seen a massive expansion of China’s visual culture industries, from architecture and graphic design to fine art and fashion. New ideologies of creativity and creative practices have reshaped the training of a new generation of art school graduates. Creativity Class is the first book to explore how Chinese art students develop, embody, and promote their own personalities and styles as they move from art school entrance test preparation, to art school, to work in the country’s burgeoning culture industries. Lily Chumley shows the connections between this creative explosion and the Chinese government’s explicit goal of cultivating creative human capital in a new “market socialist” economy where value is produced through innovation.Drawing on years of fieldwork in China’s leading art academies and art test prep schools, Chumley combines ethnography and oral history with analyses of contemporary avant-garde and official art, popular media, and propaganda. Examining the rise of a Chinese artistic vanguard and creative knowledge-based economy, Creativity Class sheds light on an important facet of today’s China. —Princeton University Press{chop}



John Birch

Terry Lautz
John Birch was better known in death than life. Shot and killed by Communists in China in 1945, he posthumously became the namesake for a right-wing organization whose influence is still visible in today’s Tea Party. This is the remarkable story of who he actually was: an American missionary-turned-soldier who wanted to save China, but instead became a victim. Terry Lautz, a longtime scholar of U.S.-China relations, has investigated archives, spoken with three of Birch’s brothers, found letters written to the women he loved, and visited sites in China where he lived and died. The result, John Birch: A Life, is the first authoritative biography of this fascinating figure whose name was appropriated for a political cause.Raised as a Baptist fundamentalist, Birch became a missionary to China prior to America’s entry into the Second World War. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for the U.S. Army in China, served with Claire Chennault, Commander of the famed Flying Tigers, and operated behind enemy lines as an intelligence officer. He planned to resume his missionary work after the war, but was killed in a dispute with Communist troops just days after Japan’s surrender. During the heyday of the Cold War in the 1950s, Robert Welch, a retired businessman from Boston, chose Birch as the figurehead for the John Birch Society, believing that his death was evidence of conspiracy at the highest levels of government. The Birch Society became one of the most polarizing organizations of its time, and the name of John Birch became synonymous with right-wing extremism.Cutting through the layers of mythology surrounding Birch, Lautz deftly presents his life and his afterlife, placing him not only in the context of anti-communism but in the longstanding American quest to shape China’s destiny. —Oxford University Press{chop}




Censorship and Conscience

Alexa Olesen
Alexa Olesen
PEN International
In this report, PEN American Center (PEN) examines how foreign authors in particular are navigating the heavily censored Chinese book industry. China is one of the largest book publishing markets in the world, with total revenue projected to exceed...



Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China

Robert D. Blackwill, Ashley J. Tellis
Council on Foreign Relations
China represents and will remain the most significant competitor to the United States for decades to come. As such, the need for a more coherent U.S. response to increasing Chinese power is long overdue. Because the American effort to “integrate”...

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